Who will come out tops in Nedbank Cup semi-finals?
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Everybody loves knockout football ... Mihlali Baleka takes a closer look at the weekend’s Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
Today: Callies v Chippa – Lucas Masterpieces, 3pm kickoff
Chippa’s journey this season hasn’t gone without the usual controversy. After sacking coach Lehlohonolo Seema late in December, chairman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi re-appointed Dan “Dance” Malesela for a fourth stint at the club.
But he, too, didn’t survive to enjoy a happy ending, abruptly sacked by Mpengesi after a string of poor results in the league. But impressively, Malesela had already inspired the Chilli Boys to the last-eight of the Nedbank Cup – the competition he has a love-affair with.
Malesela won the trophy with Pirates as a player, before collecting his second gold medal as a coach during his stint with then Gladafrica Championship side TS Galaxy after defeating Kaizer Chiefs in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium three years ago.
Interim coach Siyabulela Gwambi will have his job cut out for him, especially after the recent saga which hung over the club after they appointed Luc Eymael as a technical advisor, as he needs to decide whether he’ll focus on the cup, the ailing league position or both.
Callies, who are four points clear of the automatic relegation spot in the Gladafrica Championship, will fancy their chances of reaching the final of the Nedbank Cup upon their return to the Premier Soccer League after many years out in the wilderness.
MY KEY PLAYERS:
Callies: Thabiso Nkoana
Chippa: Frédéric Nsabiyumva
Tomorrow: Sundowns v Tshakhuma – Loftus Versfeld, 3pm kickoff
The odds and history will favour Sundowns to progress to their second consecutive final in the Nedbank Cup. The way they mopped the floor with Pirates in the last-eight at home on Thursday night was deeply impressive.
Perhaps, that is why they are undefeated in the league, while their last defeat in domestic football stretches back to their first game of the season against Bloemfontein Celtic in the MTN8 quarter-finals in Atteridgeville, at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium.
Of course, kudos should go to the three wisemen – co-coaches Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqthi, alongside senior coach Steve Komphela – for embodying the huge task which came with guiding the former African champions after the departure of Pitso Mosimane.
The players have also embodied the project of continuing with their local and continental dominance post-mosimane. As a result, it was pleasant to see Themba Zwane rising to the occasion against Pirates, churning out his best performance since scoring a hat-trick against Amazulu.
But Sundowns will know that they can only underestimate Tshakhuma at their own peril. The Polokwane-based side have been reinvigorated under the new leadership of Abram Sello who bought the club from Lawrence Mulaudzi late last year.
Although TTM are still in the relegation quagmire, joint interim coaches Mpho Maleka and David Mathebula have brought some stability to the team as the newly appointed commander in chief Dylan Kerr awaits his work permit from the league.
The rookies have already held their own against Sundowns this season, drawing their first league game against the champions before a last-minute goal from Peter Shalulile broke their hearts at home, at the Thohoyandou Stadium in Venda.
MY KEY PLAYERS:
Sundowns: Peter Shalulile
Tshakhuma: Miguel Timm