MTN8: The Big Preview

Abbubaker Mobara and George Maluleka
The city of Port Elizabeth is set to come to a standstill on Saturday when Kaizer Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town meet for the right to win the 2015 MTN8 title.

The 'Sold Out!' signs were raised more than 48 hours before the clash as fans from across the country are expected to converge on the city and close to 50,000 of them gather at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Amakhosi are the defending champions and favourites to win the title they won 12 months ago when they beat Soweto rivals 1-0 in the showpiece event.

The Buccaneers are the only team in the MTN8 era to have defended the title and Chiefs will be desperate to match their record from 2010 and 2011.

Steve Komphela's men are also steepled in Top Eight history having won the competition a record 15 times. This in comparison to Ajax, who have never won the competition and previous visit there ended with an embarrassing 6-0 demolition by Lamontville Golden Arrows back in 2009.

Roger de Sa's men reached one other previous final - the 2000 final that was won by Pirates - and will be desperate to add some silverware to their cabinet having been the bridesmaids at several other finals in recent years, most recently the Nedbank Cup last season.

Assistant coach Ian Taylor admits the players are still hurting from that latest final defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns at the same venue and only a few months ago.

He says they are desperate to make amends.

"For this young squad, it’s a second cup final in quick succession," Taylor said. "After the defeat to Sundowns in May, they are more than determined to redeem themselves.

"This time, they want to be winners, and they are eager and hungry to achieve success.”

He also believes Amakhosi will go into the final with the upper hand.

“They will have their tails up after recent results," Taylor added. "They are a fantastic football team, they keep possession and play with a lot of patience.

"At the moment, it looks like George Lebese is their danger man, he’s been among the goals of late."

Chiefs' key attacking outlet Lebese is the leading goalscorer in the tournament having netted three times already and will be the favourite for the golden boot.

Assistant coach at Amakhosi, Doctor Khumalo, believes they are in a good position heading into the decider.

“It is not a fluke that we are the defending champions,” he said. “We have won this trophy more than any other team in the league."

The Chiefs legend believes that those that pull on the famous gold and black jersey - and they are plenty in the current squad - always have a proud tradition to uphold.

“The beauty of this is that most of our players know what is expected of them even before they join Chiefs," he says. "Players come to Chiefs being aware what they have to do to advance the reputation of the club.

"For the new players, to win the trophy is the cherry on top of playing for Chiefs.”

Sized up opponents Ajax, Khumalo added: "They are not an easy team to face. They have young players with pace. For most of their players playing in a final is a dream come true.

"It seems to be standard that our opponents bring their best when they play Chiefs.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 15h00.