Major talking points from the Nedbank Cup draw
The Nedbank Cup Last 32 draw was made this week and one of the noticeable aspects was the unusually high number of all-DStv Premiership clashes there are, five in all.
But there is lots to dissect, not least finding out just who the minnow teams from the SAFA structures are, and what their chances of making the Last 16 will be.
TimesLIVE picks out five talking points following the draw.
Santos back in the limelight
There was one familiar name among the eight amateur sides who appeared in the Last 32 draw in the form of Cape Town club Santos, once a leading team in the DStv Premiership but now consigned to amateur football in the third tier.
Under charismatic owner Goolam Allie, Santos won the Premiership title in the 2001/02 season with Gordan Igesund in charge, and twice lifted the Nedbank Cup competition when it was known as the Bob Save Super Bowl in 2001 and the ABSA Cup in 2003.
They are also five-time winners of the old Federation League and a club that has a huge impact on the Cape Town game, helping to develop some of the brightest talents in SA.
They were relegated in the 2011/12 season and have since slipped into the third tier, but there remains the hope they can bounce back to the elite league in the future.
The Nedbank Cup gives them a chance to test where they are a as a club as they face top-flight Marumo Gallants, who are the holders of the trophy.
There are a number of new names for SA football fans in the Last 32 and the question on many people’s lips may be, ‘who are they?’.
Summerfield Dynamos are from Chatsworth in Durban and play in the KwaZulu-Natal ABC Motsepe League. Established in 1988, they did make the third-tier play-offs in 2019 but failed to earn promotion.
They will take on Uthongathi in a provincial derby.
Black Eagles are another ABC Motsepe League side who hail from the North West and are currently top of their stream having won five of their opening six games of the campaign.
They are owned by Drip Footwear founder Lekau Sehoana.
They will face FC Sivutsa from Mpumalanga, who made the ABC Motsepe League playoffs at the end of last season under the stewardship of then coach Innocent Mayoyo.
The latter has since moved on to Free State Stars.
Sinenkani FC are from the tiny town of Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape, but very close to the KwaZulu-Natal border.
They will not be able to use their regular stadium for the home clash with Free State Stars, and could shift to either Mdantsane or even the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban.
Third-tier African All Stars from Gauteng appeared in the 2016 and 2017 Nedbank Cups.
Bizarrely, they played away at Polokwane City on both occasions, losing 3-1 and 2-0.
NC Professionals are another side that have appeared in the Nedbank Cup before, as recently as 2019, where they lost to Mbombela United 2-1.
They will take on Mathaithai FC, who are from Botshabelo in the Free State and both sides will fancy reaching the next stage.
Tie of the round
After running through the minnows, there is no doubt the tie of the round is arguably the heavyweight clash between Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu.
There are lots of sideshows to this one, with Usuthu coach Benni McCarthy a former Buccaneer and a number of former Pirates players in their squad, not least Luvuyo Memela, Lehlohonolo Majoro and Augustine Mulenga.
Then there is the fact that Pirates have not won this trophy since 2014 despite making the final twice since then, and there will be some pressure on the co-coaching duo of Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi to bring success.
Throw in the mix the fact that these sides met twice in the league in December, with a 1-1 draw in Durban and a come-from-behind 2-1 victory for Pirates in Soweto in the last game of the year for both sides, and there is lots of recent ‘feeling’ between the sides.
You can bet your bottom dollar that McCarthy will have lots to say before the game and the atmosphere on the respective benches will be tense. Ncikazi in particular is not one to take a backwards step.
Can Richards Bay topple the giants?
Richards Bay stunned Kaizer Chiefs in the Last 32 in 2021 with a 2-1 home win, before the Amakhosi took some revenge by purchasing arguably their best player in Thabani Dube.
The KwaZulu-Natal side looked odds on for promotion last season before fading in the final weeks, which led to the exit of head coach Simo Dladla, who would find a new home, albeit briefly, at Swallows FC.
Rather confusingly he has been replaced by Sifiso Dladla and the side are once again on top of the GladAfrica Championship having led a breakaway with JDR Stars.
They will host Mamelodi Sundowns in the Last 32, as big a challenge as there is in the local game, but after their heroics against Chiefs last season they might think, ‘why not?’
Certainly no-one will expect them to win, and with promotion their ultimate aim this season, they can give it all they have. The club are also on a 13-match unbeaten run dating back to September.
A grudge match ... for both sides
Much will be made of Kaizer Chiefs’ Last 32 tie with TS Galaxy, which is of course a replay of the 2019 final when the then second-tier Rockets stunned their far more illustrious opponents.
Chiefs will certainly have revenge on their minds and for many players this will be the chance to not quite banish those awful memories, but sweeten them a little.
But the same can be said for Galaxy, whose troubles this season could perhaps be traced back to a loss to Chiefs on the final day of last season.
Both teams were vying for a top-eight place and Galaxy needed just to draw to earn their place in the MTN8 and solidify what would have been an excellent first season in the DStv Premiership.
But they lost to Samir Nurković’s first-half goal and Chiefs leapfrogged them into eighth and denied them their shot at R8m.
The Galaxy players appeared to carry that loss into this season, having had the confidence knocked out of them and it took the side nine games to earn a first win in this campaign.
For this Galaxy squad, this match is a chance to exorcise those Ghosts and perhaps give them the confidence they can survive relegation.
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