It’s face-saving time for Pirates, egg and all
Can SuperSport United beat Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in back-to-back matches? Bidvest Wits have done it this season, and United will want to follow suit.
The question ahead of Saturday’s Telkom Knockout semifinal at Mbombela Stadium is not only whether United can beat the two Soweto giants, but rather: Will they embarrass Pirates again or will the Buccaneers avenge their defeat?
Not only will Bucs go back to a venue where they were humiliated three weeks ago, they face their conquerers after an embarrassing 6-1 defeat at Mbombela that signalled the end of Muhsin Ertuğral’s Pirates career. Bucs are hoping the defeat might just have been a turning point.
They are still smarting from that calamity, particularly with the way it went down after their total collapse in the second half. While the Buccaneers’ scoreline, performance and tactics were embarrassing, they should now be strong enough.
Perhaps they needed that wakeup call – the humiliating defeat was Bucs’ first of the season in the league – to bounce back. They now have the chance to avenge that in the Telkom Knockout tie, with a place in the final at stake.
United seem to be on a roll after a sluggish start to the season. Stuart Baxter’s men are on a high, having been unbeaten in nine matches before yesterday’s league fixture against Baroka FC. But United have a sideshow on the way before Saturday’s big one: a clash against Chiefs on Wednesday evening (see box for midweek Absa Premiership matches).
Baxter will return to the FNB Stadium for the first time since leaving Amakhosi last year, and Reneilwe Letsholonyane will be up against his former team-mates. After Ertuğral, Peruvian Augusto Palacios was made caretaker coach. He started on a high note over Highlands Park and will hope he has turned the corner. Bucs have a tricky trip to Chippa United on Tuesday.
The first semifinal features Cape Town City and Free State Stars at Cape Town Stadium, also on Saturday.
Kickoff is at 3pm. Bloemfontein Celtic vs Polokwane City (Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium); Highlands Park vs Golden Arrows (Makhulong Stadium)
Platinum Stars vs Ajax Cape Town (Royal Bafokeng Stadium); Chippa United vs Orlando Pirates (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium); Cape Town City vs Maritzburg United (Cape Town Stadium)
Kaizer Chiefs vs SuperSport United (FNB Stadium); Mamelodi Sundowns vs Golden Arrows (Loftus Stadium; Bloemfontein Celtic vs Baroka FC (Dr Petrus Molemela); Bidvest Wits vs Highlands Park (Bidvest Stadium); Polokwane City vs Free State Stars (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium)