Recipe for an en­ter­tain­ing MTN8 fi­nal

The Herald (South Africa) - - CLUB SPORT - Nick Said

THE MTN8 fi­nal to­mor­row pits Cape Town City against Su­perS­port United at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Durban, with the first piece of sil­ver­ware of the new 2017-18 Premier Soc­cer League sea­son to be won.

TimesLIVE picks out five talk­ing points ahead of the de­cider that has all the in­gre­di­ents for an en­ter­tain­ing fi­nale to the com­pe­ti­tion. ý De­cline of the Soweto teams This will be the first time in the 45-year his­tory of the MTN8 com­pe­ti­tion that there will be no Soweto clubs in the fi­nal for the sec­ond sea­son run­ning.

Pre­vi­ously, one of Kaizer Chiefs‚ Or­lando Pi­rates or Moroka Swal­lows fea­tured in the com­pe­ti­tion’s fi­nal at least ev­ery other year‚ but their ab­sence again this year is an­other sign of the less­en­ing in­flu­ence of teams from Soweto on the South African land­scape.

Last sea­son saw Bid­vest Wits de­feat Mamelodi Sun­downs 3-0 in the fi­nal and this year there will be sides from Cape Town and Tsh­wane (again) seek­ing to win the sil­ver­ware.

In fact‚ since 1972‚ in 45 years‚ there have only been seven sea­sons in which a Soweto side have failed to make the fi­nal. ý Easy money The R8-mil­lion first prize for the win­ners of to­mor­row’s fi­nal rep­re­sents the rich­est pay­day in do­mes­tic knock­out foot­ball in South Africa and comes for the vic­tors af­ter just four games played.

Com­pare that with the R10-mil­lion that is won over a long‚ hard 30-game Premier League sea­son and you can see why clubs are so ea­ger to qual­ify for the top eight th­ese days.

But the mar­gins between suc­cess and fail­ure are slim and for to­mor­row’s loser‚ their runner-up cheque will be hardly of any sig­nif­i­cance.

The los­ing side will col­lect just R800 000‚ or a 10th of the win­ners’ cheque‚ which will do lit­tle to ease the pain for the play­ers.

Both sides are likely to share any spoils with the play­ers‚ so the fi­nan­cial car­rot dan­gled in front of them is huge. ý Modise can com­plete his set Teko Modise had to wait a long time for his first sil­ver­ware in South African foot­ball‚ but now he has the chance to com­plete the set if he can help City to vic­tory to­mor­row.

Modise has won the league‚ Telkom Knock­out and Ned­bank Cup with Mamelodi Sun­downs‚ as well as the Caf Cham­pi­ons League.

But the one medal that has so far eluded him is the top eight‚ and with his ca­reer wind­ing down in the next few years as in­juries bite‚ this may be his last chance.

He was at Or­lando Pi­rates when they won the ti­tle in 2011‚ but was not part of the match-day squad of the side that beat Moroka Swal­lows in the fi­nal‚ iron­i­cally at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Durban.

ý Benni can grow his leg­end with im­me­di­ate suc­cess

There were some eye­brows raised when Benni McCarthy was of­fered the Cape Town City coach­ing role in June fol­low­ing the de­fec­tion of Eric Tin­kler to Su­perS­port United.

It was not that McCarthy did not have a foot­ball pedi­gree‚ but he was untested as a head coach and came with a brash per­sona that has al­ready ap­peared on the touch­line early in the cam­paign.

But just months into his role‚ he can prove all those doubters wrong by col­lect­ing a first piece of sil­ver­ware that will no doubt be equally cel­e­brated as the many he won as a player – no­tably be­com­ing the only South African to win the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League with FC Porto in 2004.

McCarthy has brought his own style and iden­tity to the City side‚ and they have not just fol­lowed on the ex­cel­lent work of Tin­kler last sea­son. He will be des­per­ate to show he has tro­phies in him too. ý Not pay­ing the penalty Sur­pris­ingly per­haps, for matches that are of­ten tense af­fairs‚ there have only been four penalty shootouts in the his­tory of MTN8 de­ciders.

Three of those have come since MTN took over the spon­sor­ship of the top eight com­pe­ti­tion in 2008, with Kaizer Chiefs de­feat­ing Mamelodi Sun­downs 4-3 in 2008 af­ter a 0-0 draw.

Pi­rates won 4-2 against Swal­lows in 2010 fol­low­ing a 1-1 stale­mate‚ while Plat­inum Stars then fa­mously beat Pi­rates 3-1 in the 2013 de­cider af­ter that game had also fin­ished 1-1.

The only other time the fi­nal went to a shootout was in 2001, when Chiefs edged Sun­downs 7-6 af­ter the sides had played to a 2-2 draw.

Pic­ture: GALLO IM­AGES/GRANT PITCHER

CHAS­ING SIL­VER­WARE: Teko Modise will be in ac­tion for Cape Town City in the MTN8 fi­nal to­mor­row

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