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Tricky fixtures await Pirates and Chiefs in Nedbank Cup round of 16

Tricky fixtures await Pirates and Chiefs in Nedbank Cup round of 16
Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane and assistant Dillon Sheppard at a DStv Premiership match against AmaZulu FC at FNB Stadium on 3 September 2022. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will clash with Championship sides Venda Football Academy and Casric Stars respectively over the weekend. They will both be keen to avoid becoming the latest examples of the David and Goliath story.

The Nedbank Cup is the stuff of fairy tales juxtaposed with nightmares. Where David is granted the opportunity to try to floor Goliath.

Just as the lion traditionally preys on springbuck, Premiership sides habitually ease past the teams from the lower tiers of South African soccer in the national slugfest.

However, there are exceptions where the proverbial springbuck can mount a fightback to triumph, in spite of being underdogs. Two of the most successful clubs in the national cup competition, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, know this scenario well from experience.

Despite having 21 Nedbank Cups between them, both have been on the wrong end of some surprising results in the competition.

Pirates, in what remains the biggest upset in the knockout contest’s history, were famously and comprehensively thumped 4-1 by Maluti FET College in 2013 – a team from the third tier. The Bucs were outplayed and outclassed by the minnows in the last-32 fixture.  

They more than made amends for that shocking result the following season, lifting the trophy for the eighth time in their history. That was the last time they tasted success in the competition.

Orlando Pirates Nedbank Cup

Orlando Pirates coach José Riveiro during their Nedbank Cup last-32 match against All Stars at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on 11 February 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

A decade later the Buccaneers face a potential banana peel in the form of the second-tier Venda Football Academy, although there is a stark gulf in class between them. Pirates are third in the DStv Premiership, while Venda teeter dangerously close to the relegation zone in the Motsepe Foundation Championship.

Nevertheless, the coach of the Sea Robbers, José Riveiro, says they are focused on doing the job in the round-of-16 tussle.         

“We’ll take the game really seriously. We want to be in the next round. So, we’re going to take care of every detail, as we usually do. These games are complicated. Even though the team comes from the first division, it’s a team with quality, plus experienced players and an experienced coach,” the Spanish mentor told journalists in the pre-match conference.

“Even though we have to assume we’re the favourites, you can find yourselves a man down after 15 minutes. And usually, these things happen when you’re not 100% focused. Which can happen when you face teams from a lower league.”

Kick-off is at 8pm on Saturday at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Stars rising

Pirates’ bitter rivals, Chiefs, will also be in action against a team from the second tier. They will be looking to navigate around Championship side Casric Stars. Unlike fellow second-tier side Venda, Stars are flying closer to the top and are candidates to win the league and gain promotion to the top flight.

They will not be pushovers, especially against a Chiefs outfit that has largely flattered to deceive this season. What will boost the belief of the Mpumalanga-based outfit – as they plot the downfall of the record Nedbank Cup champions – is Amakhosi’s recent history in the knockout contest.

Read in Daily Maverick:Nedbank Cup another opportunity for Kaizer Chiefs to snap trophy hoodoo

The Naturena-based team has made it to the round of 16 for the first time since the 2019/20 campaign, after being bundled out in the first round over the past two years. Amakhosi have been in search of ultimate glory in this competition since 2013 – the last time they won it.  


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In 2018/19 they suffered their own shock defeat, in the final no less. They were beaten 1-0 by TS Galaxy, who were in the second tier of South African soccer at the time.  

Despite inconsistent displays throughout the season, Amakhosi are on a two-game winning streak, including claiming three league points in the Soweto Derby.

“Since the draw we have obviously been monitoring them [Casric]. We have seen one or two of their performances, which has given us an opportunity to analyse them, so we have a little bit of information,” said Chiefs assistant coach Dillon Sheppard.

“But the main focus will be on us and how we set up. As much as it’s helpful to know about our opponent, we still have to go out there and play our game.”

Not short of quality players, execution on the field of play has blighted Amakhosi’s quest to end an eight-year trophy drought.

Victory on Sunday at FNB Stadium will keep the hope of snapping this barren streak alive. Kick-off is at 6pm. DM

Additional Nedbank Cup fixtures:

Friday:  

Sekhukhune United vs Cape Town Spurs (7.30pm)

Saturday:

Lamontville Golden Arrows vs Royal AM (3pm)

Chippa United vs Mpheni Home Defenders (3pm)

Sunday:

TS Galaxy vs Stellenbosch (3pm)

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