Redemption on offer in Supa 8 final

Sello Rabothata

Sello Rabothata

It is something akin to Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

Both Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates go into the final of the SAA Supa 8 competition with a lot to prove.

This much-awaited game takes place at the King's Park stadium in Durban tomorrow at 8pm.

It may be the best of times or it could be the worst of times for either. Here is why!

While the Tshwane outfit may believe they have nothing to prove to anyone by virtue of their being the league's defending champions, supporters and football followers in general are bemoaning their lack of success in domestic cup competitions.

Bucs last won the BP Top 8 in 2000 and the Brazilians last lifted the Rothmans Cup in 1999.

They reached the semifinal of the Telkom Knockout Cup and the final of the Absa Cup and in both cases could not get past Ajax Cape Town.

That was very disappointing for the fans while it brought relief to their rivals.

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, have everything to play for and to prove after they had seemingly been on a downward slide by their previous high standards.

They have not been able to recapture the form that made both friend and foe just love the way they played. No wonder they were "happy people".

And, that is what makes this match a potential humdinger.

Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund has said they would love to win this one for Gift Leremi who was buried on Monday following his death in a car accident.

Pirates' Bibey Mutombo echoed nearly the same sentiments as Leremi was a Bucs product before his move to Downs.

It can safely be said his spirit will be hovering over the KwaZulu-Natal stadium tomorrow evening and The Ghost (excuse the pun) will be hoping he is on their side despite crossing the floor to Chloorkop.

It is going to be an interesting game with the midfield going to be the decider. Both teams boast an array of talent in that department with the likes of Esrom Nyandoro, Godfrey Sapula and Surprise Moriri pulling the strings for Sundowns while the new-look Bucs engine room of Mlungisi Gumbi, Josephy Kamwendo and Bennet Chenene has transformed the Soweto giants.

Whoever find their rhythm first is bound to sway the outcome.

While the Brazilians are a known go-forward team, their Achilles heel is their slow defence of captain Michael Manzini, Benson Mhlongo and Oscar Ntwagae, which could be exploited by the skills and speed of Joseph "Selimathunzi" Makhanya, Lebohang "Cheeseboy" Mokoena and striker Ralph Matema.

Josta Dladla will probably start for Downs and his crosses to Lerato Chabangu could be problematic for the erratic Francis Chansa in goals for Pirates if left unchecked by defence sensation Denis Makita and company, captain Lehlohonolo Seema and Lucky Lekgwathi.

l The Premier Soccer League yesterday announced that tickets for the game have been sold out. Those without tickets are advised not to go anywhere near the stadium, general manager Andrew Dipela said.