Three things to look out for in the Carling Knockout this weekend
The newest cup competition in the country reaches the quarterfinal stage.
The Carling Black Label Knockout quarterfinals take place this weekend. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix.
Can Pirates keep up their knockout form amid a league malaise?
Orlando Pirates have got themselves a well-earned reputation as cup kings under Jose Riveiro. In fact, the Buccaneers haven won every knockout competition available on the domestic front since the Spaniard took over at the start of the 2022/23 season.
They will go into Saturday’s Carling Black Label Knockout quarterfinal against Richards Bay in Durban as clear favourites, but one has to wonder if their current form in the DStv Premiership might put a spanner in their bid to reach the semifinals.
Pirates lost 2-1 to Cape Town Spurs on Wednesday evening, the league’s bottom side, who they beat just a couple of weeks ago in the Carling Knockout last 16. Fans were joking about Pirates’ luck of the draw when Richards Bay were next out of the hat to face the Buccaneers.
Richards Bay are currently just one place above Spurs in the table, but if Pirates can’t get their minds back in the game by Saturday, perhaps another shock is on the cards.
Arrows look to have the edge in a KZN derby
Golden Arrows and AmaZulu will meet twice in eight days, first on Saturday in the Carling Knockout quarterfinals and then on November 12 in the DStv Premiership. Mabhuti Khenyeza’s high-flying Arrows have been the surprise package of the season so far, and have won six of their last seven matches in all competitions.
AmaZulu, meanwhile, haven’t really got going yet under new head coach Pablo Franco Martin, with a misfiring attack failing to complement a well-organised defence.
AmaZulu even failed to beat ten-man Chippa United (they were reduced to nine men in stoppage time) in their last match, when Veli Mothwa’s bizarre own goal handed the Chilli Boys a point.
Arrows, with Knox Mutizwa starting to fire after his brace against Kaizer Chiefs in the league, should have too much for their neighbours on Saturday.
Galaxy’s chance at another knockout semifinal
TS Galaxy took full advantage of a Mamelodi Sundowns who may have had their minds elsewhere in the last 16 of the Carling Knockout, stunning Masandawana on penalties to set up Sunday’s quarterfinal against Sekhukhune United.
Galaxy have some cup pedigree, of course, courtesy of their amazing 2019 Nedbank Cup trophy win, beating Kaizer Chiefs in the final, when the Mpumalanga-based side were playing in the first division.
Galaxy beat Sekhukhune only last Sunday in the DStv Premiership, though that game was at their home in Mbombela, while Sunday’s will be at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Sekhukhune, of course, reached the final of last season’s Nedbank Cup, losing to Orlando Pirates, and will hope they can put together their own cup run in this new competition.