Sekhukhune chase upset Nedbank Cup triumph

Sekhukhune chase upset Nedbank Cup triumph
Sekhukhune United players during the 2023 Nedbank Cup Sekhukhune United media day at Johannesburg Stadium in Johannesburg on 24 May 2023 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Friday May 26, 2023. 11:00

Sekhukhune United will chase an upset triumph in the final of the Nedbank Cup when they face Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on the early evening of Saturday 27 May 2023, kick-off at 18:00 CAT.

Sekhukhune earned their place in a first Nedbank Cup final thanks to wins over Liver Brothers (6-0), Cape Town Spurs (2-0), Chippa United (2-1) and Stellenbosch FC (on penalties after a 0-0 draw) in the round of 32, round of 16, quarterfinal and semifinal respectively.

Babina Noko have enjoyed a highly successful campaign in their second year in South Africa’s top flight: they finished seventh in the DStv Premiership to secure qualification for next season’s MTN8, while their appearance in this cup final guarantees a spot in the next edition of the CAF Confederation Cup (as Pirates will be in the CAF Champions League).

“It’s not about imagining. It’s the faith and belief that we have that we will not get relegated,” said coach Brandon Truter.

“I have not finished outside the top eight for as long as I was coaching, so yes, it was expected, but [the] Confederation Cup and the [Nedbank] Cup final was always my personal ambition.

“It’s a lot [that we have achieved] in such a short space of time. For us, when I walked in, they were in 15th position. Now we have qualified for the top eight. We are playing in Africa next season and [this weekend] a cup final. I think with what we have achieved. It’s all down to hard work and players.”

Pirates, meanwhile, defeated All Stars (2-0), Venda FC (2-1), Dondol Stars (on penalties after a 1-1 draw) and arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs (2-1) to secure their place in the Nedbank Cup final – with the Soweto club looking to win the competition for a ninth time (adding to triumphs in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2011 and 2014).

The Buccaneers have also enjoyed a successful campaign, with Spanish coach Jose Riveiro making significant strides in his first season in charge: they finished ‘best of the rest’ behind runaway league champions Mamelodi Sundowns to secure Champions League qualification, and also won the MTN8 for an 11th time.

“We know Sekhukhune very well,” said Riveiro. “Both teams have the same advantage or disadvantage to play [each other] two weeks before the final. Nothing is special.

“Both teams will speculate about the [other’s] plans before kickoff. We want to lead the game as soon as possible, assume risk like we always do. There’ll be different games inside the 90 minutes.

“Before we played them, they had a record of 10 clean sheets in 20 games with coach Truter. I know they will put every effort on the field. We also know how important it is for our fans to see us win one more trophy.”

In head-to-head terms, this will be the first cup meeting between Pirates and Sekhukhune. The teams have clashed in four top-flight league matches since the start of the 2021-22 season: the Buccaneers have two wins compared to one for Babina Noko, while one game was drawn.

In this season, Sekhukhune defeated Pirates 2-0 (with goals from Elias Mokwana and Vusimuzi Mncube) at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in October 2022, while the return game at Orlando Stadium earlier this month ended in a 1-1 draw (goals from Terrence Dzvukamanja and Edwin Gyimah).

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