Friday Mar 10, 2023. 11:00
The 2022-23 Nedbank Cup will conclude its round of 16 with six matches this weekend, and the possibility of an all-DStv Premiership line-up for the quarterfinals is very much on the cards.
Runaway PSL leaders Mamelodi Sundowns and giant-slayers Dondol Stars (the lower league team which eliminated SuperSport United and AmaZulu) have already secured progression into the final eight of the national cup competition, but the remaining half-dozen slots could all be filled by top-flight clubs.
The action opens on Friday evening when Premiership side Sekhukhune United take on second-tier Cape Town Spurs, while Saturday afternoon features a derby between Golden Arrows and Royal AM, as well Chippa United tackling ABC Motsepe hopefuls Mpheni Home Defenders.
Royal’s recent strong form has been thanks to the return of coach John Maduka, who has explained that consistency and intensity has underpinned their improvement: “First, you can see even the consistency of the team. We don’t normally change it much,” said the Malawian tactician.
“If there has to be a change, it will be a loss of form or a player is injured. So it is a forced change when you do that, but for the team to be fit, we must keep it that way. Before, you will see the team dropping the tempo after 60 minutes, but now we raise the bar and we take the game away from the opponents at that moment.”
Saturday evening sees Orlando Pirates welcome second-tier Venda FC to Soweto, with the Buccaneers looking to build on an impressive showing last weekend in which they thrashed Swallows FC 4-1 in a league clash, thanks to a hat-trick from rising star Monnapule Saleng.
“We are trying to find a balance in between understanding the team that we are representing and the fact that we have to get the results and at the same time we have to build something else,” said Pirates coach Jose Riveiro.
“Like I said before, we used to put our eyes in the players that do the last pass to the net. We want to see them as part of whole picture and structure that will give us the possibilities to celebrate games like this one more frequently.”
Sunday brings another all-Premiership battle in which TS Galaxy will host an in-form Stellenbosch FC, before the round is closed out with Kaizer Chiefs hosting second-tier Casric Stars. The Amakhosi will be looking to avoid an upset loss against a lower-league opponent – a fate which has befallen them in past editions of the Nedbank Cup.
“It is going to be a very difficult game for us… they [Casric] are not in the [round of 16] by mistake,” said Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane. “Yes, people might see it as an easy team to beat, but we are going to have to dig deep again because they have hard runners.
“When you look at their team, they are very difficult to play against. We are not going to take them for granted. We are going to go out there and show our superiority.”
Nedbank Cup weekend fixtures
All times CAT
Friday 10 March
19:30: Sekhukhune United v Cape Town Spurs
Saturday 11 March
15:00: Golden Arrows v Royal AM
15:00: Chippa United v Mpheni Home Defenders
20:00: Orlando Pirates v Venda FC
Sunday 12 March
15:00: TS Galaxy v Stellenbosch FC
18:00: Kaizer Chiefs v Casric Stars
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