Friday Apr 14, 2023. 11:00
The ‘Big Three’ of Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will be the centre of attention when South Africa’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinals are played this weekend.
This season’s edition of the national cup is the first time that the heavyweight trio have all reached the quarterfinals since 2013-14 – a season in which Pirates went on to win the tournament by defeating the now defunct Bidvest Wits in the final.
And the Buccaneers have, on paper at least, the most favourable draw for the final eight as they take on ABC Motsepe League club Dondol Stars at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Yet Stars are not to be underestimated: they may be the only lower league team remaining in the Nedbank Cup, but they have claimed two top-flight scalps (SuperSport United and AmaZulu) en-route to this stage of the competition.
“Besides it [reaching the quarterfinals] being history, it is a great achievement of the team. We want to remain humble,” said Dondol co-coach Khuliso Rashamuse.
Saturday’s evening game sees Stellenbosch FC looking to stall the trophy machine that is Mamelodi Sundowns. The Brazilians have already wrapped up the DStv Premiership title and can afford to focus their energies on the Nedbank Cup and their CAF Champions League campaign – which is aided by the return of several players from injury.
“The recovering of the players is so nice to see…[Bongani] Zungu, [Abubeker] Nasir, Gaston [Sirino] after such a long time [out, they are back] on the pitch…AB [Abdelmounaim Boutouil], Thapelo [Morena] also. We have to play these games and try to make sure that the squad is close to each other,” said coach Rulani Mokwena.
Sunday’s afternoon match pits Chippa United and Sekhukhune United against one another at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, while the evening match will see Royal AM face Kaizer Chiefs at the Chatsworth Stadium.
Thwihli Thwahla were something of a ‘bogey’ team for the Amakhosi, but the Soweto giants seemed to overcome that mental hurdle with a 2-0 win when the clubs met in a league clash in late January.
Yet Chiefs will be the team under pressure, with this Nedbank Cup representing their only remaining chance to avoid an eighth straight season without a major trophy.
“We won’t give up now. This is football, and sometimes you find yourself in this situation. We always put ourselves in this situation where we could have made it much better for ourselves,” said coach Arthur Zwane.
Nedbank Cup quarterfinal fixtures
Saturday 15 April
15:00: Dondol Stars v Orlando Pirates
18:00: Stellenbosch FC v Mamelodi Sundowns
Sunday 16 April
15:00: Chippa United v Sekhukhune United
18:00: Royal AM v Kaizer Chiefs