Amakhosi bounced back to beat Maritzburg, Bucs battled to victory over 10-men City, SuperSport held off a spirited TTM and Celtic surprised Sundowns
The quarter-final action began on Saturday afternoon at the Thohoyandou Stadium, where new kids on the block Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) hosted Kaitano Tembo’s SuperSport United.
There was a notable talking point before the match even started when it emerged the Limpopo side, who bought the Bidvest Wits‘ franchise a couple of months ago to earn their place in the top-flight, listed only three substitutes on the bench.
That was because the club is yet to register all the players they need for the upcoming season.
And by the time kickoff arrived, head coach Joel Masutha had only been in charge for a matter of a week.
The lack of adequate preparation seemed in evidence as SuperSport hit the ground running and surged into a 3-0 lead by the time 33 minutes had been played, thanks to goals from Bradley Grobler (eighth minute), Iqraam Rayners (28 minutes) and Ghampani Lungu.
The situation looked dire at that point for the hosts, but to their credit, they rallied back superbly, with the outstanding man-of-the-match Celimpilo Ngema at the forefront, backed by two fine goals either side of half time by Botswana international Mogakolodi Ngele.
It wasn’t enough however as SuperSport hung on for the win, although the nature of the fightback should have given TTM a lift.
Next up was the showdown between Pirates and Cape Town City in Orlando on Saturday evening. It proved to be a much tighter affair and was settled by a solitary goal on debut for Terrence Dzvukamanja, the former Bidvest Wits striker.
Dzvukamanja’s effort was a superb header from a Wayde Jooste delivery on 23 minutes. Jooste was also making his debut for the Soweto side, as did Thulani Hlatshwayo and Deon Hotto.
Just 10 minutes after the goal, Cape Town City were reduced to 10 men when Fagrie Lakay received a straight red card after stamping on Jooste’s ankle.
Perhaps of slight concern to Pirates boss Josef Zinnbauer was his side’s failure to drive home the numerical advantage as Bucs barely threatened the City goal for the final hour of the game. Ultimately though it was job done and they were through to the next round.
Chiefs, meanwhile, also made hard work of securing a 2-1 victory over Maritzburg United at the FNB Stadium, on Sunday afternoon.
Maritzburg had knocked Chiefs out of last season’s Telkom Knockout competition and a repeat seemed to possibly be on the cards when Thabiso Kutumela coolly slotted home a 35th-minute goal. With the Amakhosi defence all over the place, Maritzburg had more chances to add to their scoreline and also hit the bar through Bongokuhle Hlongwane.
Following the restart, though, it was a reinvigorated Chiefs side which took to the field, boosted likely by a tough half time team talk by new coach Gavin Hunt, who also made two changes by bringing on Leonardo Castro and Njabulo Blom for Lazarous Kambole and Anthony Akumu respectively.
Maritzburg immediately found themselves under pressure and the Glamour Boys eventually dealt them a double blow as Yagan Sasman struck in the 73rd and 75th minutes to secure a 2-1 win. Both goals came from Khama Billiat corners.
Sundowns, in their first match since the departure of head coach Pitso Mosimane to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, had the better chances on the night. But Phunya Sele Sele proved to more clinical as Victor Letsoalo headed in a 69th-minute free-kick by Ronald Pfumbidzai to secure the win.
That set up the Free State side for a semi-final showdown with SuperSport, while Chiefs and Pirates meet in a tantalizing match-up. The two-legged semi-finals will take place on the last weekend of October and the first weekend of November.