Who will pocket a cool R8m in the MTN8 finals?

Score to settle. Elias Pelembe of Wits face his former employer Downs’ in the finals of the MTN8 at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday. Pelembe was off-loaded to Wits, in a move that did not go well with him.

Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns will battle for the MTN8 trophy when they meet in the final at Mbombela Stadium, on October 1.

Wits have progressed into the showpiece match after overcoming Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the quarterfinals and Cape Town City 3-0 on aggregate in the semis, while ‘Downs owe their spot in the final to a 3-1 win over SuperSport United and a narrow 1-0 aggregate triumph over Chippa United.

For the Clever Boys, reaching the MTN8 final, breaks a cycle of three successive semifinal disappointments from 2013 onwards.

This will be the Johannesburg club’s first Top Eight final since they claimed the second of their trophies in this competition by defeating Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 in the 1995 edition (their first triumph arrived in 1984 with a 4-3 aggregate win over Moroka Swallows).

The Brazilians, meanwhile, will be returning to the final for the first time since 2008 when they were beaten on penalties by Kaizer Chiefs. Overall the Brazilians have claimed three Top Eight titles (1988, 1990 and 2007).

Though Wits and Sundowns are two of the country’s most established top flight clubs, they have not been regular combatants in cup competitions down the years. In fact, since the formation of the NSL in 1985, these teams have clashed just 10 times in knockout games, and only three of those have been since the turn of the century.

The Brazilians have dominated cup games between the teams, claiming eight wins and suffering just one defeat, all while scoring 18 goals compared to just five for the Clever Boys.

The teams’ most recent cup meeting arrived in 2012 when they clashed in the second round of the Nedbank Cup: a brace from Nyasha Mushekwi took ‘Downs to a 2-0 away win.

Wits and Sundowns have not met in the Top Eight since way back in 1990 when the Brazilians claimed a 5-0 aggregate win in the two-legged final.

Sundowns’ dominance in cup meetings is mirrored in the overall head-to-head record between the teams: they have 41 wins compared to 17 for Wits in 71 matches across all competitions since 1985.

The Brazilians also completed a league ‘double’ over the Clever Boys last season, winning 4-2 at home and 1-0 away en route to claiming the PSL title. Kick off 5pm.

On the move. Downs’ defender cum striker Tebogo Langerman will play a crucial  role in trying to stop former teammate Pelembe on Saturday.


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