Telkom Knockout Final

Baroka FC vs Orlando Pirates | Saturday 8 December | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 18:00

The last trophy of the year will be at stake on Saturday with two great clubs going head to head at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Baroka are on the cusp of making history by becoming the first football club from Limpopo to win a major trophy while Orlando Pirates want to claim their first piece of silverware since the 2014 Nedbank Cup triumph. Having eliminated great sides such as Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns, Wedson Nyirenda’s men will be looking to complete a Cinderella story while Milutin Sredojevic badly wants to crown the beautiful football that he’s implemented at Pirates with a trophy.

To Win
Baroka 4/1
Draw 24/10
Orlando Pirates 7/10

To Lift Cup
Baroka 2/1
Orlando Pirates 7/20

Baroka FC

Baroka, who have been poor in the league this season, where they lie just above the relegation zone due to a superior goal difference, have been phenomenal in the Telkom Knockout Cup. Bakgaga have knocked out Golden Arrows, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits without conceding a single goal. It is also interesting to note that all their five goals so far in the tournament came from different players which includes an own goal by Sundowns’ Reyaad Pieterse.

The experienced coach, Wedson Nyirenda, has won many titles in the African continent as a coach and that should give his team confidence. He has clearly stated that his team is embracing the underdog tag as it lifts the pressure off them. His signing, Elvis Chipezeze, has been a revelation, doing a fantastic job between the sticks.

Speaking of players to watch, Talent Chawapiwa has illuminated the Bakgaga squad with his dazzling runs down the wing leaving the whole country mesmerised. The battle between him and the tough-tackling Asavela Mbekile will be interesting to watch. Chawapiwa’s attacking abilities are complemented by that midfield combination of Mduduzi Mdantsane, Tebogo Sodi and Goodman Mosele.

In terms of the head to head record, Baroka and Pirates have met in five previous matches with Baroka yet to taste victory. The Buccaneers have won won 3-1 and 2-1 and there have been three 1-1 draws, meaning these sides have never kept clean sheets against each other.

Orlando Pirates

Vincent Pule, Xola Mlambo and Ben Motshwari will be looking to make it two Telkom Knockout triumphs in a row as they lifted the trophy with Bidvest Wits at the Princess Magogo Stadium last year. Pule scored the game’s solitary goal against Bloemfontein Celtic in a cagey final. Orlando Pirates are unbeaten in their last 14 games across all competitions, at the time of writing.

Last week, they were frustrated by Maritzburg United in a match that ended goalless. The team has played really well in the last couple of weeks but their ineptitudes in front of goal sometimes let them down with Justin Shonga being the main culprit. Thembinkosi Lorch has been superb in this competition and he’s in line for the player of the tournament award. He will be hoping to wrap it up in style.

Mlambo, who’s been one of the standout players for the mighty Buccaneers in the current campaign, was rested last week against Maritzburg United as he was one yellow card away from suspension. He will definitely start on Saturday and I’m expecting him to play alongside Musa Nyatama as Motshwari isn’t match fit.

Probable line ups:

Baroka: 4-2-3-1
Chipezeze; Semenya, Sibiya, Makume, Gebhardt; Mdantsane, Sodi; Mosele, Mabeba, Chawapiwa; Dickens

Pirates: 4-4-2
Mpontshane; Mbekile, Munetsi, Jele, Maela; Mlambo, Nyatama, Pule, Lorch; Mulenga, Shonga

Prediction: Orlando Pirates win (7/10)
As much as Baroka will make a game of it, Orlando Pirates have too much quality and most of the players in the team have won the trophy. Experienced players like Happy Jele, Mbekile, Musa, Mlambo and others know exactly what it takes to win games of this calibre. I also don’t see Baroka abandoning their all-out attacking approach which will give the Sea Robbers space to attack. Coach Micho has won many trophies around the world and his assistant Rhulani Mokwena has also enjoyed success with Mamelodi Sundowns. Everything points towards Pirates winning and that’s the result I’m backing in 90 minutes.

Benedict Ngwenya

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