For under-pressure Wits, the final gives the reigning Absa Premiership champions a chance to earn a much-needed confidence-boosting cup title to resurrect their ailing league displays, while for Celtic, a first trophy in five years is just 90 minutes away.
Wits have endured a horrendous start to the 2017/18 season, and sit bottom of the Absa Premiership log with just nine points from 11 games played. They’ve won just two of their last five games played across all competitions, but reached this year’s TKO final by first overcoming Free State Stars in extra-time, before recording 1-0 victories over league leaders Baroka FC and Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs respectively.
Celtic, who sit eighth on the league table, have won four of the last six games in all competitions, and are in this year’s TKO final after two penalty shootout wins – against last year’s losing finalists SuperSport United and Polokwane City – with a 2-1 win over Platinum Stars sandwiched in between.
In 67 previous meetings since 1985, the Clever Boys have claimed 32 victories compared to Celtic’s 19, with 16 draws. Of the 67 matches, 10 were played in cups, with Wits earning eight wins compared to Celtic’s one, with one draw which Wits went on to win 4-3 on penalties in the 2014/15 MTN8 quarter-finals.
The two sides have met on three previous occasions in the Telkom Knockout, with two victories for Wits and one for Celtic, back in 1999.
In the two sides’ last nine meetings in all competitions, Wits have emerged victorious on four occasions compared to Celtic’s three, with two draws, yet Phunya Sele Sele will be buoyed by their result in their last meeting – a 1-0 victory for the team form the Free State following their league encounter on 1 October.
Should the game go to penalties, Celtic will take confidence from their record in the competition, winning five of their eight penalties shootouts in the TKO, while the Students have lost three from three.
For Siwelele coach Veselin Jelusic, the final presents an opportunity to grab PSL silverware just five months after landing in the country, while for decorated coach Gavin Hunt it’s a chance to grab his first Telkom Knockout crown, having never featured in a TKO final before.
Durban is hosting the final for the sixth time since 2016, when the competition was rebranded as the Telkom Knockout.
The Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu will be hosting the final for the first time however, with kick-off set for 18h00.