Super Sport United v Orlando Pirates – Sunday 19th August – Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane (15:00)
The semi-final draw of the MTN8 took place last week after four of Mzansi’s best qualified from the quarter-finals. Defending champions Orlando Pirates will take on SuperSport United, while Mamelodi Sundowns will host Moroka Swallows. The ties will be played over two legs.
Both look tasty ties, with this one involving champions Pirates and 2012 Nedbank Cup winners SuperSport especially enticing. The two teams have had some top battles over the past few seasons and it promises to be an open and entertaining match. The draw means Bucs and Matsatsantsa will play each other three times in one week. After this leg of the semi-final, they will face each other in the league at the very same Peter Mokaba Stadium on August 22, before the second leg of the cup semi on August 25.
SuperSport secured their passage to the next stage with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Free State Stars, with Nathan Paulse and Franklin Cale getting the goals. Gavin Hunt’s men kicked off their league campaign in Cape Town last week Friday earning a hard fought 1-1 draw with Ajax. Veteran forward Sibusiso Zuma scored for Matsatsantsa with a long range shot. SuperSport ended third on the league table last season, just four points adrift of champions Orlando Pirates. The Pretoria club have finished in the top eight of the standings for the last 12 seasons running. It has again been a busy winter on the transfer front for SuperSport, who lost the likes of Morgan Gould and Tebogo Langerman, while veterans Ricardo Katza and Glen Salmon have retired. Yet the club have brought in some fine talent, most notably George Maluleka (from Ajax), Clifford Mulenga (Celtic), Nathan Paulse (Platinum), Bevan Fransman (Hapoel Tel Aviv) and Roscoe Pietersen (Chippa), to boost their squad depth.
The Buccaneers snatched a late 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic to advance from the quarter-finals. Pirates were lucky to be awarded a penalty eight minutes from time, which Andile Jali duly slotted home. The leagues defending champions began their title defence in fine style, coming from behind to beat Golden Arrows 2-1 at Orlando Stadium last Friday night. Arrows went up 1-0 before Thulasizwe Mbuyane’s goal right on the stroke of half-time levelled matters. It was all Pirates in the second half and they finally got the winner when Tlou Segolela struck a cracking long range shot into the top corner. Pirates won a second successive treble last season, adding the Telkom Knockout and Premiership titles to the MTN8 they won early in the campaign, and are looking to win the MTN8 Cup for an unprecedented third successive time. This will be Pirates’ 11th match in the MTN8, and they are unbeaten in the tournament since 2009, having won the last two editions. They have retained most of the squad that did duty last year, with Isaac Chansa their only major departure. According to Augusto Palacios, two of their major signings in Onyekachi Okonkwo and Takesure Chinyama are not ready for action just yet.
Although Pirates pulled the double over SuperSport last season, previous encounters have been evenly contested. In the last 16 matches between the two, SuperSport have won seven to Pirates’ six with three games being drawn. Both teams are unbeaten this season and this match looks like the attackers will have the toughest jobs on the day. The draw is tipped.