The 2019 Telkom Knockout has already broken a record. This season’s tournament has had the most penalty shootouts in a single 15-game tournament since 2002. So far, there have been seven shootouts, beating the previous high of six from 2005.
With three matches remaining, 58% of 2019 Telkom Knockout fixtures have been decided by penalty shootouts. The overall tournament average in 267 games since 2002 is 19%.
The League Cup, initially established in 1982, was trimmed from 18 teams to 16 in 2002 after the PSL bought the Premier Division licenses of Free State Stars and Ria Stars. This reduced the number of fixtures in the tournament from 17 to 15.
Telkom took over from Coca-Cola as League Cup sponsors in 2006, but the format remained unchanged and has been preserved since.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this year’s competition had taken on a spot-kick cup format.
Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzburg United face off at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday 24 November. Both sides qualified for this semi-final clash through two penalty shootouts from two fixtures.
Amakhosi saw off Cape Town City in the last 16 and Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals, while Maritzburg United beat Bidvest Wits and then Highlands Park.
Mamelodi Sundowns visit Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday 23 November in the other semifinal. The Brazilians had to scrap for their last four spot, beating Chippa United on penalties in the quarter-finals after a 2-2 draw.
Abafana Bes’thende are the only remaining team not to have needed penalties in either of their two games to date. Arrows beat Polokwane City 1-0 after extra time in the last 16 and SuperSport United 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
Other shootouts at this year’s tournament were Highlands Park beating Black Leopards and SuperSport United beating Baroka in the last 16.
League Cup penalty shootouts by year
**The competition consisted of 17 matches.
* Total count after 12 matches.
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Leonard Solms is a freelance South African multi-sport journalist who has written for a number of regional, national and international newspapers and websites. He won a Rhodes-Investec Top 100 Award in 2018, the year in which he completed his Bachelor of Journalism at Rhodes University.