A clash of knock­out kings

One might be for­given for think­ing this one is more Din­gane’s Day than Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Day

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za

Wed­nes­day’s ti­tanic bat­tle be­tween two South African foot­ball gi­ants – Mamelodi Sun­downs and Kaizer Chiefs – in the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal will re­mind many of the ori­gins of this pub­lic hol­i­day. Be­fore be­ing re-bap­tised Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Day in 1994, this date was orig­i­nally Din­gane’s Day be­cause of the bloody bat­tle be­tween Zulu King Din­gane’s war­riors and the Bo­ers in 1838.

But the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Pitso Mosi­mane and Steve Kom­phela will hap­pen only af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

Dur­ban’s Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium will be the bat­tle­field as the two friends will be­come foes for 90 min­utes.

This may not quite be the Bat­tle of Blood River, but the stakes are still high, as Mosi­mane and Kom­phela’s teams fight it out for R4.25 mil­lion in prize money.

There surely won’t be much char­ity on the pitch on Wed­nes­day.

This is Kom­phela’s sec­ond cup fi­nal in as many com­pe­ti­tions since join­ing Amakhosi at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and, de­spite now reach­ing two cup fi­nals, he is yet to win the hearts of the Chiefs faith­ful.

There are still those who doubt Kom­phela’s cre­den­tials, as he has not yet lifted a tro­phy as a coach.

He lost the MTN8 fi­nal to Ajax Cape Town three months ago but has a chance to re­deem him­self now.

A vic­tory for Kom­phela will go a long way to­wards eas­ing the pres­sure of man­ag­ing a team of Chiefs’ cal­i­bre.

Wed­nes­day may be a great op­por­tu­nity, but com­ing up against a Sun­downs side un­beaten in 10 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions makes this as­sign­ment even harder than the last fi­nal he lost.

By com­par­i­son, af­ter a slug­gish start to the sea­son, Mosi­mane has man­aged to si­lence the fickle Sun­downs sup­port­ers, who were call­ing for his head not so long ago.

Sun­downs have scored 11 goals on their way to this fi­nal, beat­ing Chippa United 2-0 in the open­ing round and de­mol­ish­ing Free State Stars 6-1 in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

They recorded a 3-1 vic­tory over neigh­bours Su­perS­port United in the Tsh­wane Derby in the semi­fi­nals.

Chiefs, on the other hand, needed a penalty shoot-out to oust Or­lando Pi­rates in their semi­fi­nal.

Be­fore then, they nar­rowly beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-1 and for­mer cham­pi­ons Plat­inum Stars 3-0.

Sun­downs have been boosted by the re­turn to train­ing of Khama Bil­liat, who has re­cov­ered from a con­cus­sion suf­fered in the team’s last game, against Free State Stars.

Mosi­mane will be hold­ing thumbs that the sen­sa­tional Kea­gan Dolly will re­turn from the CAF Un­der-23 Africa Cup of Na­tions in Sene­gal with a clean bill of health. Dolly has been a rev­e­la­tion since join­ing the Brazil­ians at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son and has been in­stru­men­tal in Downs’ good run.

The na­tional team only ar­rives home to­mor­row from Sene­gal.

Chiefs will be with­out tal­is­manic goal­keeper Itume­leng Khune, who is on his way to re­cov­ery af­ter un­der­go­ing surgery last month on a torn menis­cus.

Kick­off is at 6pm.

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACK­PAGEPIX PHOTO: CHRIS RICCO / BACK­PAGEPIX

THE HEAT Steve Kom­phela needs to win to ease the con­stant pres­sure from Amakhosi fans ON A ROLL Pitso Mosi­mane’s side has been do­ing

well re­cently

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