Cup holders clash in Tshwane

SuperSport United will take on reigning Telkom Knockout champions Baroka FC in a round-of-16 clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday evening.

Kick-off is at 8:15pm CAT.

SuperSport head into the match on a massive high: their last game before the international break was a 1-0 win over Highlands Park in the final of the MTN8, as the Tshwane side picked up the first piece of silverware on offer in the 2019/20 PSL season.

Matsatsantsa won their only Telkom Knockout title in 2014 and last season they got as far as the quarterfinals before falling 1-0 at the hands of Kaizer Chiefs.

SuperSport head coach Kaitano Tembo and his troops used the international break to refocus on the next challenge, as they set their sights on an unprecedented cup double.

“I think we’ve had enough time to recover and move on from our MTN8 victory, and we tried to make sure the players are in the right frame of mind,” Tembo said in the build-up to this weekend's clash.

“You can see how quickly football moves – we’re already into something else big [another cup competition], so it gave me an opportunity to try and make sure we change the mindset of the team and focus on the next game against Baroka.”

Baroka come into this cup tie on a low, having suffered a third straight defeat when they were beaten 1-0 at Maritzburg United in their most recent match. The Limpopo side will look to snap that losing streak in their return to the TKO.

Bakgaga enjoyed a fairy tale run in the 2018 Telkom Knockout, overcoming Golden Arrows, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates (on penalties) to win the competition. It was their first piece of major silverware.

Baroka FC head coach Wedson Nyirenda was the man to lead the Limpopo side to glory late last year, but is aware that in SuperSport they face a side brimming with recent cup success.

“The boys know what it means to win a major cup trophy‚ they know what comes with it and they know what it takes on the field too‚" Nyirenda said.

“They know what they need to do in these knockout situations.”

He continued: "It looks tough because we are playing a team that is well-organised‚ highly structured‚ with very experienced players and is much improved from last season.

“Kaitano has the side looking very good. Their success in the MTN8 shows clearly that they are a team going in the right direction‚ and improving with each game," he concluded.

Star players to watch

SuperSport United

Bradley Grobler: With seven goals and three assist in 10 games this season, the SuperSport forward is the form player in South Africa's top-flight. Grobler also scored the decisive goal in the MTN8 final and will be hoping to carry that momentum into this weekend's opening round of TKO fixtures.

Dean Furman: The Matsatsansa captain has played every minute of football for SuperSport this season, and only seems to be getting better with age. His importance to Bafana Bafana was again highlighted last weekend and he will be itching to get his hands on more silverware after holding the MTN8 trophy aloft in Orlando earlier this month.

Baroka FC

Elvis Chipezeze: The Bakgaga shot-stopper played a starring role in the club's run to TKO glory last year and continues to form an integral part of Nyirenda's plans. In SuperSport, though, he faces a team that's in form, and a free-scoring side spearheaded by Grobler and the rejuvenated Thamsanqa Gabuza.

Gerald Phiri Jnr: Baroka need more from the Malawi international if they are to break their losing slump. Phiri was outstanding in the open few weeks of the season, but his dip in form has directly reflected in Baroka's numbers rising in the losses column. On his day, the tricky midfielder is a joy to watch.