Johannesburg - With the Telkom Knockout being the second cup competition of the season, clubs get an opportunity to win silverware early.
The last round saw all the home clubs using home advantage to good effect, winning their ties in front of supporters. They will be hoping for the same kind of outcome in the quarterfinals at the weekend.
But there are no guarantees in football. Visiting clubs also want a place in the semifinals, which will obviously guarantee them more money. Except for one, all three fixtures have revenge written all over them.
Mamelodi Sundowns vs SuperSport United
Yet another Tshwane derby will be on the cards when the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal draw pits two Tshwane sides, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, against each other.
The two clubs met at the same stage of the MTN8 competition earlier in the season, with the Brazilians coming out tops.
So expect fireworks when they clash again, with United gunning for revenge. They seem to be finding their feet after a slow start to the season.
Stuart Baxter has been under tremendous pressure to produce good results following his buying spree in the off-season. He would be hoping that United’s 4-1 demolition of Highlands Park a fortnight ago was the turning point.
Sundowns are on a roll and seem unstoppable, having carried their CAF Champions League form to the domestic league. They showed this in their game against Polokwane City on Thursday.
The Brazilians have enough personnel to go all the way and defend their title, but if there is any side that can derail them, it has to be United, who, on paper, also have the best players.
Verdict: SuperSport win
Baroka FC vs Cape Town City
The Limpopo side seem to save their best for cup competitions and will be hoping to continue with their fairytale run. They have already knocked out former champions Platinum Stars and will again fancy their chances against the side they have already beaten.
City will go to Limpopo with revenge in mind as they try to reverse the 2-1 scoreline they suffered against Baroka a fortnight ago. But after starting well under Eric Tinkler, City looked as if they are running out of steam in their last few fixtures, although their victory over Bloemfontein Celtic should inspire them to go further in this tournament.
Verdict: Baroka win
Kaizer Chiefs vs Free State Stars
The last time the two teams met, Stars had no coach and had Themba Sithole on the bench after the departure of Denis Lavagne.
Since then, coach Giovanni Solinas has returned and started his second stint with a victory over MTN8 champions Bidvest Wits.
Although his focus is on the league campaign, a good run in this tournament will go a long way in stabilising the side. But Chiefs have been on a roll and will fancy their chances again. Steve Komphela has found the winning combination as they had gone six games without a defeat before the Soweto derby.
Verdict: Chiefs win
Orlando Pirates vs Highlands Park
The two sides are still to meet this season and this should be an interesting game as Gordon Igesund comes up against his former side.
Igesund started his tenure at Highlands on a positive note with a win over Chippa United and is now gunning for the Bucs’ skull. Muhsin Ertugral is already under pressure after losing out on the MTN8 and another cup exit could spell trouble for the Turkish mentor. But they should still be too strong for Highlands, and Igesund’s mandate is to secure the club’s league status.
Verdict: Pirates win