Sanele Tshbalala, Sports Sangoma
It's all in now with the footy season. La Liga is a go, as are other major leagues we like to punt on.

Locally, it’s the first cup of the season kicking off, with the MTN8 first round to be played today, the same tournament that Kaizer Chiefs is not a part of.

It’s cup knockout play, which is always exciting as it’s a one-off affair. There must be a winner at the end of play, 90 minutes or extra play.

There are three games today and the other to be played tomorrow. First up, Cape Town City hosts Polokwane. The visiting team come in with a better start in the league, but are up against a team that are tough to beat at home, especially in cup games.

One of the other televised encounters is Orlando Pirates versus Highlands Park. This is expected to be a win for the Bucs at home. The only issue may be that the Sea Robbers have had a lot of action early on this season, with four games in two weeks, in three different competitions.

Mamelodi Sundowns hosting Bloem Celtic is the second big cup game. Sundowns look a sort, and more so at home, where they are amongst the best in the country in recent history.

Pirates, Sundowns and Polokwane are my picks, with extra time in one of the games.

Tomorrow, Bidvest Wits play SuperSport United, in a game where a winner is hard to call. Similar to Cape Town City, Wits at home and in cup games are a good team. I suspect a 90 minutes draw in this encounter.

As for the overall winner of the top eight tournament, the bottom half of the draw has it all to play for with the easiest run into the finals. The bottom half consists of Polokwane, Wits, SuperSport and Cape Town City.

Then in rugby it’s the last couple of games before teams travel to Japan for the World Cup. There are a bunch of international games, with some interesting match-ups.

The game in New Zealand will be the most interesting in my opinion. It is Bledisloe 2 being played in Auckland and the All Blacks will be out to defend the cup. The handicap is 15 points, which is very generous given last week’s result.

Australia should surely get in here within the + handicap at the price of 9/10. I don’t see another upset here, but I definitely don’t see Australia being beaten by more than two tries either. If you fancy Australia to lift the cup by winning this game, they are at a very juicy price, 9/2.

The other big game sees the return match between Wales and England. Wales will be expecting to do better at home, and should be able to do better.

Wales are priced at 7/10, and the visitors at 12/10, with a three-point handicap. I call an England double, Wales may have seen their peak earlier this year?

Locally, in the Currie Cup its Pumas playing Cheetahs today and Lions versus Sharks tomorrow, a local Sunday delight.

I fancy the away teams to thrive this weekend, and take it all down to the last round to see who will make the semi-finals.

In the cricket it’s the second game of the Ashes. It’s a shortened game, with rain on day one. England look up at the minute but bank on Australia to play hard for the draw, I think it’s possible. That will make it 1-0 to Australia, with three games to play.

Happy viewing and punting. Sangoma out and about on the hunt this weekend.

@shabsgunner


Independent on Saturday