South Africa: The Underdog Cup

Extra Time: With all the big hitters knocked out, the Carling Knockout Cup is emerging as the tournament for the underdog, writes Michael Madyira.

The Carling Knockout is proving to be a Cup of the Underdogs as big guns are biting the dust.

The first Premier Soccer League heavyweight to be humbled was Mamelodi Sundowns, although they could argue that they fielded a severely depleted team in the Round of 16 against TS Galaxy.

They were followed through the exit door by Kaizer Chiefs who were dumped by AmaZulu at the same stage of the competition.

Orlando Pirates became the latest traditional giant to be kicked out after failing to take advantage of extra time against struggling Richards Bay last weekend.

It’s unusual for a Cup competition to reach the semi-final phase without the big teams involved.

Even respected sides like SuperSport United, Cape Town City and Moroka Swallows are out of the Carling Knockout.

Perhaps it shows there is a shift in the balance of power in the PSL.

Maybe some PSL teams are showing that there are no longer “small teams” in modern football.

Sundowns can console themselves by saying they have been dominating domestic football in recent seasons.

Pirates might find comfort in that they already have silverware this term after clinching the MTN8.

But for Chiefs, the Carling Knockout exit was a reminder of a club enduring a crisis that has seen them go for eight years without winning any trophy.

Failure to win this Beer Cup claimed the scalp of their former coach Molefi Ntseki.

With Stellenbosch, TS Galaxy, Richards Bay and AmaZulu remaining, the Carling Knockout has established itself as a competition that has no respect for reputation.

Big teams can no longer ride on popularity.

Even the sponsors might be a bit sad that teams that attract interest are out of this tournament and we could witness a low-key final.

It’s anyone’s game in the Carling Knockout and it remains to be seen which team will emerge as champions.


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