5 August 2008
The Premier Soccer League has announced another big windfall with MTN committing R400-million over five years to the sport. The cellular communications giant has also taken over the title sponsorship of the Top 8 knockout tournament.
The MTN 8 Knockout will feature South Africa’s top eight clubs doing battle for a lucrative R8-million winner-takes-all prize. The tournament’s catch phrase will be “Wafa Wafa!” which, roughly translated, means “last man standing”.
The format gives the clubs and players extra motivation to win, but each team will receive R800 000 simply for participating.
The prize money is significantly improved over last year’s figures, which saw Mamelodi Sundowns, as winners, taking home R1.3-million and runners-up Orlando Pirates pocketing R750 000.
Interestingly, the competition draw favoured all four Gauteng clubs in the competition with home games.
It kicks off on Friday 8 August at the Johannesburg Stadium, where Orlando Pirates will take on PSL champions SuperSport United.
The Buccaneers have had ample opportunity to find their pre-season legs in the Vodacom Challenge and the Telkom Charity Cup, which they won at the weekend with a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs.
Another two quarterfinal clashes take place on Saturday 9 August, with Moroka Swallows facing Ajax Cape Town at Olympia Park and Kaizer Chiefs tackling Santos at Loftus Stadium. Chiefs, like Pirates, have enjoyed plenty of pre-season action and are, on the evidence so far presented, an improved outfit over last season.
The last of the quarterfinals sees Mamelodi Sundowns in action against Free State Stars at the Super Stadium on Saturday 10 August. The Brazilians will want to make amends for their early exit from the Telkom Charity Cup, and will also want to show that they are better than their fourth place in the 2007/08 PSL season.
The first leg of the semi-finals will be staged the following weekend, on 16 and 17 August, with the second leg fixtures scheduled for 23 and 24 August. World Peace Day, 21 September, will be the day of the final.
“Since the inception of the Top 8 in 1972, we have seen the birth of many legends and some truly memorable matches,” PSL chairman Irvin Khoza said in a statement.
“This year, with the exciting innovations introduced by the PSL and the new sponsor MTN, I feel that the competition will be fiercer than ever before, and I am certain that there are no favourites,” he said.
“As the only African global sponsor of the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa, MTN has shown its passion for football,” Khoza said.
‘Ultimate football supporter’
MTN spokesman Pieter Verkade urged fans of the top eight clubs to become involved in the competition. “Just like the teams, we encourage the fans to go all out and demonstrate their passion for the game and their club, to determine who the ultimate football supporter of the MTN 8 Wafa Wafa competition will be.
“The most passionate fans at each match will be selected to take part in a half-time competition, with the crowd voting for the winner,” Verkade said.
“The eight winners from each of the matches will then go through to the final, where they will compete for the ultimate prize, and to be crowned the ultimate MTN 8 Wafa Wafa fan.”
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