Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns both go in search of a first ever MTN8 trophy when they clash at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday evening.
While the Brazilians have added regularly to their trophy cabinet over the last few years – Absa Premiership titles, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cups, it has been nine seasons since they last won the Top 8.
The Clever Boys meanwhile won the Top 8 in 1984 and 1995, while their most recent silverware came back in 2010 in the Nedbank Cup.
Road to the final
Bidvest Wits 2-1 Orlando Pirates (Mkhwanazi, Hlatshwayo)
Bidvest Wits 3-0 Cape Town City (Rodgers, Pelembe, Mhango)
Cape Town City 0-0 Bidvest Wits
Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 SuperSport United (Arendse, Vilakazi, Billiat)
Chippa United 0-0 Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 Chippa United (Laffor)
Head to Head
In the six most recent meetings (all league, each club have won two games, with two draws.
Mamelodi Sundowns 4 – 2 Bidvest Wits
Bidvest Wits 1 – 0 Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns 0 – 0 Bidvest Wits
Bidvest Wits 3 – 1 Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns 2 – 1 Bidvest Wits
Mamelodi Sundowns 2 – 2 Bidvest Wits
In a Students side that does not contain too many players with trophy winning experience, Klate is an exception, having five league, three Nedbank Cup and two MTN8 winners’ medals to his credit. The 31-year-old winger will bring a cool head to the heat of the battle and can potentially score and create goals.
Mhango is potentially to Wits what Billiat is to Sundowns, a lightning quick livewire forward capable of scoring goals and winning matches with moments of individual brilliance, also able to create opportunities for team-mates. And he knows how to score against Sundowns, having netted twice in former club Bloemfontein Celtic’s 5-0 drubbing of Sundowns last year.
The reigning PSL Footballer of the Season has in the last two seasons added what was previously missing from his game – goals. Ever more clinical in front of goal, he can score off either foot and has bagged some crucial goals over the last year. Diminutive yet tough, Billiat’s pace and movement could prove crucial in a tight game.
In the injury enforced absence of Leonardo Castro, Downs’ options up front have been somewhat limited. But Laffor has stepped up his game just when needed, the Liberian having scored the decisive goal in the semi-final win over Chippa, as well as registering in the CAF Champions League semi-final last weekend.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt, both 52, will surely both go down as amongst the most successful PSL club coaches in history.
Mosimane has two league titles, an SAA Supa 8, an Absa Cup, a Nedbank Cup and a Telkom Knockout under his belt as a manager.
Hunt has three league titles, a Nedbank Cup and an Absa Cup to his name, as well as several Coach of the Season awards.
A point to prove?
The likes of Eleazar Rodgers, Elias Pelembe, Mogakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila were all previously on Sundowns’ books which would no doubt make victory all the more sweeter for them on Saturday.
Sibusiso Vilakazi meanwhile made the move from Wits to Sundowns in the winter break, while Tebogo Langerman and Denis Onyango both had brief spells with the Clever Boys.
Suspensions: Neither team has any players suspended.