TKO quarter-final preview

Baroka vs Mamelodi Sundowns (Saturday, 3pm, New Peter Mokaba Stadium)
Hosts Baroka head into this encounter in a poor run of form, having won just one of their last 10 matches. That victory came two weeks ago, a 2-0 defeat of Golden Arrows, to secure their passage into the Last 8 of the TKO, a stage they’ve reached over the past two seasons, but never beyond.

Sundowns, on the other hand, are in fine form, and unbeaten in their last eight fixtures. Gaston Sirino’s strike against Bloemfontein Celtic was enough to secure their quarter-final berth, already going one better than last year after being knocked out in the first round by Chippa United.

Winners of the tournament in 2015, Downs will be confident of reaching the semi-finals this year, having never lost to Baroka, winning three and drawing one of their four league encounters.

This will be the first meeting between the two sides in a cup tournament.

AmaZulu vs Orlando Pirates (Saturday, 6pm, Moses Mabhida Stadium)

Despite being two of the oldest clubs in the PSL, this will be just the fourth cup meeting between the two sides in the PSL era, and a first in the TKO – their last was a 2-1 win for the Bucs in the Top Eight Cup in 1994.

Usuthu are unbeaten at home in their last seven games, yet have just one win in their last seven games played this season, their sole victory being their 2-0 win over Cape Town City to advance in this year’s cup competition quarter-final – the highest stage they’ve ever reached in this tournament.

After beating Chippa United 1-0 in the first round, Pirates followed up that win with a Soweto Derby victory, stretching their unbeaten record in all competitions to eight matches as they head into tonight’s encounter high in confidence.

Bucs have played AmaZulu 59 times since the start of the NSL, winning 26 of those encounters compared to their opponents’ 11, and are unbeaten against their KwaZulu-Natal rivals in their previous six games, the last being a 1-1 league draw played last month.

At least one goal was scored by both teams in their last six fixtures against each other across all competitions.

Maritzburg United vs Bidvest Wits (Saturday, 8.15pm, Harry Gwala Stadium)

After being knocked out in the first round in four of the last five editions of the TKO, Maritzburg went one better as they beat Highlands Park 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals this season. Yet their record in the competition makes for poor reading: they’ve only made the semi-finals once – their best showing, in 2010, have only scored two goals in their last 11 games in the competition, and have only won four of their 16 TKO matches in the history of the competition.

The Team of Choice has failed to beat Wits in their last nine encounters in all competitions, playing out a goalless draw in their previous league meeting in September.

Defending champions Wits sit pretty at the summit of the Absa Premiership standings, having won four of their last seven games, including a 1-0 victory over bogey team Free State Stars to reach the quarter-finals.

Wits lead the head-to-head statistics with 11 wins from the 24 matches played against their KwaZulu-Natal rivals – who have only won four – with their only previous cup encounter ending in a 1-0 win when Maritzburg was then known as Tembisa Classic in the 2006 Absa Cup.

Kaizer Chiefs vs SuperSport United (Sunday, 3pm, Moses Mabhida Stadium)

As two regular foes who know each other all too well, Chiefs and SuperSport have met seven times over the past year-and-a-half, with Chiefs failing to win any of those contests with four draws and three losses.

Chiefs’ inconsistent season so far saw them needing penalties to beat Black Leopards in the previous round, but head into this encounter wounded after a 2-1 league Derby defeat to Pirates. Chiefs last reached the TKO final in 2015, losing 3-1 to Sundowns, and last lifted this cup in 2010 after beating The Bucs 3-0.

SuperSport also needed penalties to book their quarter-final berth after a 1-1 draw with Polokwane City, and have drawn their last five games in all competitions. They will however be buoyed by their previous cup meeting with Chiefs earlier this season, where they prevailed 3-2 on aggregate in the MTN8 semi-finals.

The clubs are evenly matched in their head-to-head encounters: in their 71 meetings across all competitions, Chiefs have won 27 with SuperSport fast-closing in on 26, with 18 draws.

SuperSport have reached the final of this competition four times, but have only won once, beating Platinum Stars 3-2 after extra-time in the 2014 showdown.