Soweto giants continue search for silverware
South Africa's ailing Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates continue their long quest for silverware this weekend in the Telkom Knockout quarter finals.
The pair, regular visitors to the winners' podium over the last five decades, have not won a trophy between them for the last two seasons as they have been forced to watch Bidvest Wits, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United claim the silverware.
Only out-of-sorts Wits remain as an obstacle in this year's Telkom Knockout though, providing a huge opportunity for Chiefs and Pirates to end their barren run.
For Pirates, it has been particularly difficult, with just a single success, the 2014 Nedbank Cup, in the past five years, a dismal return for a club of their stature.
They will expect to advance past Polokwane City when they host the Limpopo club at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
City are no pushovers for sure, and have already held Pirates to a 2-2 draw this season, but do not have the quality in all areas of the pitch to contain a confident and firing Buccaneers side.
"Polokwane are a top class team," Sredojevic told reporters on Thursday [as per Kick Off]. "They have shown this by beating Sundowns in Pretoria and holding us the last time and Chiefs on Tuesday. We need to respect all the strong and weak points.
Sredojevic admits his side have yet to hit top gear this season, with too many draws.
"In all the matches we have played, we have in most matches drawn or even lost. This is something that drives us to get individually better and to get much better as a team and perform to the highest standards."
Chiefs have, on paper, a much tougher assignment as they travel to in-form Chippa United on Sunday.
Chippa knocked Sundowns out of the competition last weekend and then claimed a 2-0 success at league champions Wits in midweek, with midfielder Samuel Julies scoring all three of their goals in those games.
The Eastern Cape side have been reborn under coach Teboho Moloi, going unbeaten in the eight games they have played under the former Pirates assistant, and appear to be getting better with each passing fixture.
They will provide a stern test for Chiefs, who still blow hot and cold, though they created more than enough chances to win the game in their 0-0 draw at Polokwane City in midweek.
The fact that the game is being played at the plusher Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth may play into the hands of the visitors, sparing them a trip to the more intimidating Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane.
Wits are such a mixed bag this season, that you would be loath to bet against them, but so indifferent is their form that a home victory cannot be assured when they host Baroka FC on Saturday.
The Clever Boys have already beaten Baroka 1-0 this season, but were so poor in their midweek loss to Chippa that it also represents an excellent chance for the visitors to claim a famous scalp.
Baroka are without their influential skipper Olaleng Shaku due to suspension, while Wits are missing last season's top scorer Gabadinho Mhango for the same reason.
It is a difficult game to call, though given Wits have won all three previous meetings with Baroka, including a 5-0 mauling at home last season, and have yet to concede a goal, they should be favourites.
Platinum Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic complete the quarter-final lini[, with their match on Saturday afternoon at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Stars got their first win of the season in midweek when they beat Ajax Cape Town, while Celtic continued their hot-streak with victory over Maritzburg United.
Celtic have won on their last two visits to Stars and look a much improved side under Serbian coach Veselin Jeluvic, but Stars have a fine history in the Telkom Knockout, a competition they obviously enjoy, with their most recent success in 2013.