Top 8 is easy to win - and lose
THE MTN8, the easiest cup tournament to win, according to Premier League coaches, returns this weekend with the first legs of the semifinal clashes between Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows, as well as Supersport United against champions Orlando Pirates.
Sundowns will first host Swallows at Lucas Moripe stadium tomorrow night, while United welcome the Buccaneers to Peter Mokaba stadium on Sunday.
The fixtures are then reversed next weekend when the finalists will be confirmed.
All four coaches - Johan Neeskens, of Sundowns, Zeca Marques, at Swallows, United's Gavin Hunt and Augusto Palacios, of Pirates - agree that the Top 8 is a quick way to claim silverware ahead of a demanding season.
"You only play three games and you are in the final. It's definitely the easiest way to win a cup this season and we've been in the final before [in 2010]," said Marques.
Neeskens knows all too well the disappointment of bowing out in the semifinals following the previous campaign's 4-3 aggregate defeat by Pirates.
The Sundowns would like a comprehensive first-leg victory, much like their 4-1 rout of Kaizer Chiefs in the previous round.
"[Swallows] finished as runners-up last season and they would obviously have ambitions to win something this year. We want the same. Everybody grabbed their chances last season and it's time for us to grab ours in these two games," said Neeskens.
The pressure is on Pirates to retain the cup and, though they have always found it tough against United, completing a league double over them last season has given the Buccaneers an advantage.