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Part 2: The History Of The League Cup (Carling Cup)

The second chapter in our League Cup history series brings us to the present-day trophy that we know as the Telkom Knockout.

Carling Cup

The second chapter in our League Cup history series brings us to the present-day trophy that we know as the Telkom Knockout. The change in name did not really change Kaizer Chiefs’ dominance, who maintained their stranglehold on the Cup by winning three of the first six Telkom tournaments. This meant that for the first 16 years of the PSL (1996 to 2011), Chiefs won 50% of the League Cup tournaments (8).

Let’s dive in:

2006 – A Hat-Trick Hero

That said, Silver Stars were the first champions of the renamed tournament, beating Ajax 3-1 in the final for their first top-flight trophy as a PSL club. To cap it off, they won it in style as Simba Marumo scored all three goals for them in the final.

3 – Marumo is the only PSL-era player to score a hat-trick in a major domestic Cup final.

2007 – A New Star Is Born

Having missed out in 2005 & 2006, Chiefs returned to victory in 2007 as the early Sundowns rivalry from the late 90s was replayed once again. Chiefs were crowned 2007 champions after winning the final via penalty shootout in the only League Cup final that ended goalless even after extra-time. A young Itumeleng Khune, who had made his Chiefs debut a few months earlier, was the hero on the day, saving three of Sundowns penalties.

100% – Chiefs have won three out of three penalty shootouts in League Cup finals – more than any other team in the competition. All three have come versus Sundowns.

2008 – Ajax Haunt Pirates (Again)

Ajax Cape Town lifted the 2008 Telkom Knockout beating Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the final. It was their second league cup title in the PSL era and both (2000 & 2008) came at the expense of Pirates in the final. They joined an exclusive club with Sundowns, Pirates, Chiefs, Supersport, and Wits – teams that have won all three major domestic knockout competitions at least once. This was the highest-scoring tournament since 2000 when second legs were abolished.

44 – Altogether 44 goals were scored in the 2008 Telkom Knockout competition (excluding extra time), the most for a single tournament without second-leg encounters.

2009 – Ajax Miss Out On A Double

The 2009 tournament was held in 2010 as the PSL rearranged Cup fixtures in preparation for hosting the World Cup. Ajax came close to becoming only the 2nd PSL team to win back-to-back League Cups, losing out to Chiefs in the final. It was yet another triumph for Amakhosi, who had to beat Pirates via a penalty shootout to progress from the 2009/10 Telkom Knockout semi.

14 – In the PSL era, Chiefs have won 14 of the 16 League Cup shootouts they’ve been in.

2010 – A Soweto Derby Final

Another high-stakes Soweto derby was on the cards in 2010. Chiefs were crowned winners of the 2010 Telkom Knockout, beating Orlando Pirates 3-0 in the final. It was the end of an era for Chiefs after years of dominance as this was their last league Cup. For Pirates, it was another final loss, cementing an unwanted reputation for losing Cup finals. Recent wins under Jose Riveiro are starting to change the narrative.

2011 – Double Treble Pirates

Pirates went one better the following year, lifting the 2011 Telkom Knockout by beating Wits 3-1 in the final, for their first & only League Cup title. This was a relentless Pirates side, who were defending league champions & were on their way to another league title. The 10 goals they scored on their way to that title remain the most in one season for a Pirates side in the competition (without 2nd legs).

5 – The 2011 Telkom Knockout was Pirates’ 5th successive domestic final (Won 4 Lost 1). They were the second PSL side to reach five domestic Cup finals in a row (after Supersport 04/05 – 05/06), and also the last.

2012 – 2019: A Change Of Guard

Both Pirates and Chiefs have not won the Cup since then, and this has opened the door for a wide variety of champions. 24 League Cups have been contested in the PSL era, but the recent winners have been more diverse. The first 16 years of the PSL era saw seven different clubs win the League Cup. The next eight years have also seen seven different winners. Indeed, five of them were first-time League Cup winners in the PSL era.

2012 – Bloemfontein Celtic

Since 2010, Celtic have had a complicated relationship with the Telkom Knockout. They know only two outcomes in the tournament: either they reached the final (2 times) or they got eliminated in the first round (8 times). Their journey to 2012 glory was full of drama – with late goals, extra-time goals, penalty shootouts, and controversial goals on the way.

1 – Celtic’s victory over Sundowns in the 2012 final was their only win in six Coke / Rothmans / Telkom Cup fixtures against Sundowns (W1 L5).

2013 – Platinum Stars

Platinum Stars lifted the 2013 Telkom Knockout for the first time as Platinum Stars (the same club won the 2006 title as Silver Stars before the name change). Like Celtic the season before, the journey was neither simple nor easy. Stars had to beat Sundowns (Quarter-Final), Chiefs (Semi-Final) and Pirates (Final) – the only occasion a side has beaten all those three sides on their way to the League Cup trophy.

2 – Pirates lost to Platinum Stars in the 2013 TKO final & the MTN8 final earlier that season, the only occasion where a PSL side lost to the same opponent in two separate Cup finals in the same season.

2014 – Supersport

Another first-time winner of the League Cup was Supersport, who lifted their only Telkom Knockout Cup in 2014. Matsatsantsabeat defending champions Platinum Stars 3-2 in the final in an extra-time thriller for their first League Cup title, 18 seasons into the PSL era.

3283 – Supersport appeared in the 2005 Coke Cup final and next appeared in the 2014 Telkom Knockout final, 3283 days later. That gap of almost 10 years remains the longest wait for any PSL side between two League Cup final appearances.

2016 – Cape Town City

Cape Town City was (re)formed in 2016 following the takeover of the Mpumalanga Black Aces franchise. The newly formed side went on to announce their arrival in the top flight by winning the 2016 Telkom Knockout, beating Supersport 2-1 in the final. The Citizens faced Supersport in three domestic finals in three successive seasons, winning two and losing the other one.

2017 – Bidvest Wits

Bidvest Wits were the next first-time winners in the PSL era (Wits University won two League cups before the PSL was established in 1996), beating Celtic 1-0 thanks to Vincent Pule’s injury-time goal. For Wits, this trophy was their fourth in the PSL era, following the 2009 Nedbank Cup, 2016/17 MTN8, and 2016/17 league titles. It came during a golden period under oe SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt.

4 – Wits are the only PSL side to win just one each of all four major domestic trophies in the PSL era (Premiership, MTN8, TKO & Nedbank Cup).

2018 – Baroka

The last of the first-time winners was Baroka, who beat Orlando Pirates in the 2018 final. This was Bakgaka’s first ever top-flight trophy and it came just three years after they were promoted to the top-flight. For Pirates, it was yet another loss:

5 – The TKO2018 final defeat was Pirates’ 5th defeat in a League Cup final, the highest number of final defeats for any PSL side in the tournament.

2015 & 2019 – Sundowns

Sundowns are the only side that has won the Telkom Knockout more than once since 2010 (2015 & 2019). They beat Chiefs 3-1 in the 2015 final and then beat Maritzburg 2-1 in the 2019 final. The defending league champions will be hoping to make up for their defeat in the recent MTN8 final when the new Carling Cup starts.

From 2023 onwards, a new chapter awaits.

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