THE defending champions, Orlando Pirates, will face SuperSport United in the semifinals of the MTN8, after the confirmation of the tournament semifinalists at a chaotic draw held at the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) head-quarters in Parktown, Johannesburg yesterday.
Mamelodi Sundowns will face Moroka Swallows in the second semifinal, and the sponsors will be happy the draw ensured that the possibility of a dream final between the Brazilians and Pirates remains on track.
But the proceedings were marred by the PSL’s decision to allow throngs of supporters, who even outnumbered real journalists, to attend the event. The media could barely conduct interviews as some fans were posing with the MTN8 trophy on display, while others jostled for a better view of the players.
The event was reduced to a farce with excited fans screaming at the top of their voices in the middle of interviews.
PSL officials looked on while the chaos they had created played out before their eyes.
The semifinals will be played over two legs — home and away — and United player Thabo September said they had to ensure that they take full advantage from hosting Pirates in the first leg.
"We are happy that we are starting at home because we will go to Orlando Stadium (in the second leg) knowing exactly what we need to do," he said.
"We just have to make sure that we do not concede any goals at home and get a couple of goals. We want to take the advantage to Orlando stadium in the return match in the second leg."
United were often criticised for their failure to transfer their impressive showing in the league to cup games. Even when they dominated the league and won successive premiership titles between 2007 and 2010, their cup form was not as dominant.
That changed last season when United beat Sundowns to win the Nedbank Cup in May.
September said their inability to win cup competitions was a monkey they were glad to finally get off their backs last season and they would go into this new campaign confident that they no longer have mental shortcomings. "That mentality we can win cup is finally there and we will take it to Pirates," he said.
Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi said the Bucs would have to tread very carefully against a resurgent United that is capable of beating any side in the league.
"We will give them the respect they deserve and I think it will be a tough match for us," he said.
Moroka Swallows have the tough task of facing a Sundowns side that finally played to its true potential, thrashing the much-fancied Kaizer Chiefs 4-1 in the quarterfinals at Loftus Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Swallows Lefa Tsutsulupa captain said he did not watch the Chiefs v Sundowns match as the Birds were playing AmaZulu in their own quarterfinal at the same time on Sunday afternoon.
"Obviously I did not see the whole match and only saw the highlights of the goals," the Swallows midfielder said.
"I would say it was a case of Chiefs not defending very well. As to whether Sundowns dominated the match or not, I am not sure about that. We will sit down with the coach (Zeca Marques) and see how they (Sundowns) played. In terms of us going forward into this game, we will have a plan for our semifinal against them."