Win a cup and buy yourself some time in the hot seat.
That’s probably what several coaches in the PSL will be thinking when the Telkom Knockout gets under way this week, with Cape Town City hosting Bloemfontein Celtic in the tournament’s first opening round fixture tomorrow night.
Squeezing domestic cup games in between league matches brings added pressure for coaches who haven’t quite had it their way since the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
And those who are enjoying a purple match, like Steve Komphela after Kaizer Chiefs registered their fourth consecutive Absa Premiership win at the weekend, are also under the spotlight. Amakhosi finished the previous season without any silverware and had good intentions to wipe the slate clean, but missed out on the early season MTN8 title, which was emphatically claimed by Bidvest Wits three weeks ago in the final - they beat reigning league champions Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0.
Komphela might feel the Telkom KO comes at a time when his charges are beginning to understand his ways and, although the championship is the main target, going all the way in the cup would be a morale booster he wouldn’t have necessarily banked on. His Orlando Pirates counterpart, Muhsin Ertugral, is probably under more pressure as the Buccaneers left it until virtually the last kick of the ball to come away with a point away to Polokwane City in a league match on Sunday. The draw was Pirates’ third in a row, and the noise from the critics is getting louder.
Chiefs welcome Maritzburg United to the FNB Stadium on Saturday night, a side they controversially put to the sword nearly a month ago with a 2-0 victory. One would feel the Buccaneers have a tougher assignment against high-flying Golden Arrows, with Clinton Larsen’s men in second place - one above Pirates with four points separating the two sides - on the League table after six matches. Not quite win or bust for Ertugral, but defeat could put him under pressure to deliver the championship, even though he’s taken over a team that only just secured a top eight spot on the final day of the previous season.
Gavin Hunt, on the other hand, goes into this weekend’s cup fixture against hoodoo side Free State Stars far more relaxed than his colleagues. The Wits coach already has a trophy to brag about and whatever happens in the two remaining cup competitions - the Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup much later in the season - is unlikely to affect his job security.
Tomorrow: Cape Town City v Bloemfontein Celtic (Cape Town Stadium, 7.30pm)
Friday: Highland Park v Chippa United (Makhulong Stadium, 8pm)
Saturday: Free State Stars v Bidvest Wits (Goble Park Stadium, 3pm); Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium, 8:15pm); SuperSport United v Ajax Cape Town (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 8:15pm)
Sunday: Orlando Pirates v Golden Arrows (Orlando Stadium, 3pm); Baroka FC v Platinum Stars (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3pm)
October 27: Mamelodi Sundowns v Polokwane City (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 6pm)
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