After almost three months of no domestic action, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is back this weekend with the season opening MTN8 competition where Orlando Pirates will be going all out to defend their title.
To be able to start their defence on a good positive note and book a place in the two legged semi-final stage, Pirates will have to overcome unpredictable Swallows in what promises to be an exciting original Soweto derby at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
The biggest match of the round is without doubt the hugely anticipated clash between bitter rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Sunday afternoon.
Other two matches of this round sees Golden Arrows take on SuperSport United in a what promises to be a closely contested affair at the Princes Magogo Stadium in Kwa-Mashu on Saturday afternoon and AmaZulu take on Cape Town City at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday.
Golden Arrows VS SuperSport United
This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides in the MTN8 and SuperSport have more experience in this competition as they have appeared every season in the history of the Premier Soccer League (PSL)
United is the only club in the league to have played in the tournament for every season while Arrows are appearing in the competition for the sixth time.
Arrows’ five previous showings have resulted in four quarterfinal exits and a stunning trophy victory in 2009 when they thrashed now defunct Ajax Cape Town 6-0 in the decider at Orlando Stadium and that remains the biggest margin of victory in a South African cup final.
SuperSport have been to the MTN8 final in three of the last four years, winning it in 2017 and 2019 and losing out in 2018.
This will be the first game in charge of Arrows for new coach Lehlohonolo Seema, who took over from Mandla Ncikazi and on the other hand, Kaitano Tembo is entering his fourth season as head coach of United.
Pick: Arrows Wins by 1.57 at BetXChange
Orlando Pirates VS Swallows
This will be the third meeting between the two sides in this competition since the National Soccer League (NSL) was formed in 1985.
Pirates have won this tournament on 10 previous occasions and they are the current holders after they beat Bloemfontein Celtic in the final last season.
Pirates’ victory in the final last year ended the club’s run of six years without a trophy of any kind and nine years since they had won the MTN8 and it was also a first piece of silverware in South Africa for their German coach Josef Zinnbauer.
Pirates and Swallows is the original Soweto Derby and the oldest of the current fixtures in South Africa’s top flight and in matches played since the formation of the NSL, a draw has been the most common result with 32 stalemates.
Pick: Pirates Wins by 0.82 at BetXChange
Mamelodi Sundowns VS Kaizer Chiefs
This will be the 100th meeting in all competitions between bitter rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs since the National Soccer League (NSL) was formed in 1985.
The two giants have met in the MTN8 competition on seven occasions over that period with Chiefs leading the head-to-head in terms of winning the ties 5-2, though two of those victories came via penalty shoot-outs.
Four of the seven meetings have been in the final of the competition, with Chiefs winning all in 1992, 1994, 2001 and 2008, the latter two by penalty shoot-outs.
Both victories for Sundowns against Chiefs in the MTN8 competition have come in the quarterfinals – a 2-0 away victory in 1993 and a comprehensive 4-1 home win in 2012.
That latter victory was achieved in the first game in charge for current Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter in his first spell at Naturena.
New Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter helped the side to MTN8 glory in 2014 when they edged Orlando Pirates 1-0 in the final thanks to a goal from Tefu Mashamaite.
Quite extraordinarily given their recent success, Sundowns have never lifted the MTN8 trophy in its current guise, their last win in this competition was all the way back in 2007 when they also beat Pirates 1-0.
Pick: Sundowns Wins by 1.13 at BetXChange
AmaZulu VS Cape Town City
This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides in the MTN8 competition and just their second cup clash after AmaZulu ran out 2-0 winners in the Telkom Knockout during the 2019/20 season.
Cape Town City have appeared in every MTN8 competition since the club was formed in 2016 and they were beaten finalists in 2017 but returned to the final to lift the trophy the following year.
Since then the club has lost in the quarterfinals stage and will hope to avoid a hat-trick of early exits this time round.
AmaZulu are appearing in the MTN8 competition for just the third time since the formation of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in the 1996/97 season.
Their first appearance was in 2009/10 when they lost to eventual champions Golden Arrows in the semifinals, they appeared again in 2012/13 but exited in the quarterfinals stage at the hands of Moroka Swallows who also went on to lift the trophy.
Current AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy was in charge of Cape Town City when they reached the MTN8 finals in 2017 and 2018 against SuperSport United and both matches going to penalties with Matsatsantsa winning the first and City the second.
That remains the only piece of silverware for McCarthy as a head coach so far and City coach Eric Tinkler was in charge of SuperSport United when they beat his current club in the 2017 MTN8 final.
Pick: AmaZulu Wins by 1.06 at BetXChange