Thwihli Thwahla eyeing first-ever semi-final appearance

Thwihli Thwahla eyeing first-ever semi-final appearance
John Maduka, head coach of Royal AM

by Staff Reporter

Saturday Apr 09, 2022. 09:56

A first-ever semi-final beckons for Royal AM when they host the University of Pretoria at Chatsworth Stadium in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)

This will be Thwihli Thwahla’s third appearance in the competition after they reached the last-eight stage in 2020 before being knocked out by Pretoria Callies at the first hurdle last season.

The KZN outfit’s run two year ago was ended by Bidvest Wits with a 4-0 defeat and John Maduka’s side will be entering unchartered territory should they beat AmaTuks this weekend.

Royal booked their passage to the quarter-finals after edging Cape Town City 2-1 in the round of 32 and claiming a narrow 1-0 victory over Swallows in the round of 16.

The Durban-based club are flying high in their debut season in the DStv Premiership, having gone unbeaten in their last nine games to sit second in the standings with six fixtures remaining.

Maduka has put their fine form down to hard work and believes his budding squad will only get better as time goes on.

“it’s a young team but so far we’re getting better and better,” he said. “We will win games, but you know the way it is, everyone wants to shoot us down. It’s not easy for the players but they’re working hard.”

Tuks came close to lifting the trophy back in 2009 when they went all the way to the final before losing 1-0 to the Dube Birds.

After progressing to the quarters the following year, they have endured a disappointing run in the Nedbank Cup since then, never making it beyond the round of 32 until this season.

Tlisane Motaung’s charges began their cup journey with a 2-1 win over GladAfrica Championship rivals Hungry Lions in the qualifying round and then dispatched 2021 losing finalists Chippa United 2-0 in the round of 32.

A thrilling encounter followed against Venda Football Academy, who were dumped out on penalties after the round-of-16 tie finished 3-3.

AmaTuks midfielder Frank Mpedi revealed they have their sights set on a second final appearance, although he admits Royal AM will provide their toughest challenge yet in the competition.

“It’s going to be a tough one but we are up for the challenge. If you want to get into the big league, you have to test yourself with the bigger teams. This is an opportunity to test ourselves,” Mpedi said.

“Hopefully we’ll get through to the semi-finals. Our goal is to go to the final and it starts on Sunday against Royal AM. We’ll see what the outcome will be.

“The boys are motivated. With this one of Royal AM they don’t need anyone to motivate them, it comes as motivation itself. The boys are ready.”

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