Johannesburg - After the CAF Champions League final on Sunday, Sundowns will breathe a sigh of relief because they will finally be able to direct all their efforts towards one tournament.
But they will have little time to celebrate if they win the continental showpiece because they will go straight to the field a day after returning from Egypt.
Sundowns are scheduled to begin the defence of the Telkom Knockout Cup at home against Polokwane City on October 27.
Sundowns players who are not registered for the Champions League would have had enough rest as they last played in the MTN8 final at the beginning of the month.
But with the core of the squad being made up of those involved in the continental showpiece, the Brazilians might pay the price for playing in the Champions League as it might affect their domestic performance.
Cape Town City vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Cape Town Stadium, Wednesday, 19:30)
This fixture will kick-start this season’s tournament. Eric Tinkler’s side, who have been doing well at home, should fancy their chances against a struggling Celtic.
Before Saturday's game against Baroka, City had not lost at home so far in four matches, and Tinkler could count on his home record.
Celtic need to bounce back from their poor start this season, and a win away from home would go a long way towards turning their season around. But they might just come up short.
- Verdict: City win
Highlands Park vs Chippa United (Makhulong Stadium, Friday, 20:00)
Highlands Park coach Allan Freese knows the feeling of winning the Telkom Cup after lifting the trophy while at Platinum Stars three seasons ago, and he will be hoping this rubs off on the players.
But Chippa have been the talk of the town because of their brand of exciting football that has earned them a few admirers. Dan Malesela’s team will be hoping to continue their brilliant start and will be favourites to win this one.
- Verdict: Chippa win
Free State Stars vs Bidvest Wits (Goble Park, Saturday, 15:00)
Newly crowned MTN8 champions Bidvest Wits will be hoping their early success in the season does not affect their performance.
Many clubs tend to struggle with a hangover after winning early, and Gavin Hunt would have cut the celebrations short to focus on Saturday’s trip to the Free State, where the Students always struggle to come back with results.
Stars have had their own problems, which have seen them parting ways with Frenchman Denis Lavagne and bringing back Giovanni Solinas. They will be hoping the Italian will have an immediate effect, starting with this game.
- Verdict: Wits win
SuperSport United vs Ajax Cape Town (Lucas Moripe, Saturday, 20:15)
Two struggling sides meet early in the competition with a chance to redeem themselves after a poor showing in the opening fixtures. Pressure is on Stuart Baxter to start delivering after going on a buying spree before the season started.
But results have not been forthcoming for the former Kaizer Chiefs mentor. He will be hoping to turn the season around with a victory over Ajax, who have not been good, either.
Ajax were still to win a game this season before last night’s visit to Chiefs in Durban.
Roger De Sá has been boosted by the return to training of defender Rivaldo Coetzee and striker Prince Nxumalo. But odds are still stacked against the Urban Warriors to go back to Cape Town with a victory.
- Verdict: SuperSport win
Kaizer Chiefs vs Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium, Saturday, 20:15)
After crying foul that he was denied a legitimate goal, Ernst Middendorp will be hoping to even the score by dumping Chiefs out of the tournament.
Maritzburg’s last visit to the FNB Stadium was not a good one as they went down to a resurgent Amakhosi in a league game, despite Middendorp’s claims.
Chiefs seem to have found their rhythm after three straight wins before Saturday's game against Ajax, but it is silverware they want most.
Steve Komphela came second best twice last year when he lost in the final and in the MTN8 and he wants to go a step further by delivering the trophy this time around. Chiefs should be too strong for United.
- Verdict: Chiefs win