Will Orlando Pirates hit the Nedbank Cup jackpot?
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JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates have been far from impressive in the DStv Premiership. But with admirable form in knockout competitions the Nedbank Cup could be on its way to the club.
After a six-year trophy drought, Pirates won the MTN8 trophy early this season. However, they failed to replicate that form in their league campaign. They are fourth in the standings with 29 points.
The Soweto giants have been a different side in the CAF Confederation Cup and Nedbank Cup. The Sea Robbers are in the group stage of the continental showpiece after winning all three matches in the preliminary qualifiers.
Their Nedbank Cup campaign also got off to a flyer, defeating GladAfrica Championship side Uthongathi 1-0 at home. In the last 16 of the competition, the Buccaneers will be away to struggling top-flight side Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium today (6pm kick-off).
Pirates are the favourites to come out tops in Pietermaritzburg. But coach Josef Zinnbauer will have to bank on his troops to bring their scoring boots, especially with the team losing more attacking players to the medical room on a regular basis.
A team that hasn't had problems up front is AmaZulu. Usuthu’s striking contingent, which consists of Lehlohonolo Majoro, Bonginkosi Ntuli, Augustine Mulenga and Siphelele
Mthembu, has scored 13 goals in 10 matches this year.
But what must please coach Benni McCarthy is that their bid for a topfour finish is taking shape as they are sixth, four points behind Pirates. Usuthu, though, will hope to secure a ticket to continental football by winning the Nedbank Cup.
Coastal-based AmaZulu will square off against Black Leopards in the next round of the competition under the scorching heat of Venda at the Thohoyandou Stadium today (3pm kickoff).
All odds may favour McCarthy and his troops, but not playing competitive football for more than a week that could put their chances in jeopardy. Leopards, on the other hand, are full of confidence after a huge win over Golden Arrows on Tuesday.
This win was a morale booster in their bid to escape the relegation quagmire as they moved up to 15th on the standings. And that’s why they’ll know the more wins they collect, cup or league, the more organised and confident they'll be as a team.
The Cape coastal derby between Chippa United and Cape Town City will be one of the highlight clashes of the weekend in the knockout competition.
Both teams are known for their enterprising carpet football.
The Chilli Boys are finding their identity under coach Dan “Dance” Malesela who rejoined the club for an astonishing fourth spell late last year.
Malesela also knows the thrills that come with winning the Nedbank Cup, having done so as a player and coach at Orlando Pirates and TS Galaxy respectively.
But he’ll have to be vigilant when hosting the Citizens at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow (6pm kick-off).
City coach Jan Olde Riekerink has added a dash of “Dutch philosophy” to his team as they’ve been eye-catching on build-up play.
However, it’s silverware and results that the management and supporters want to see.
And with City having last tasted silverware under McCarthy in 2018, they’ll be hoping to overturn their fortunes in the Nedbank Cup.