Cup action returns in South Africa this weekend as the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals kick off on Saturday, with league leaders Kaizer Chiefs facing the toughest task of the round – a return trip to Bloemfontein in order to face Celtic for the second time in a fortnight.
The other three matches include cup kings SuperSport United, Ernst Middendorp’s Maritzburg United, minnows United FC and African Warriors with Mamelodi Sundowns and Platinum Stars rounding off the group of eight sides ready to do battle in the lucrative competition.
|BLOEMFONTEIN CELTIC VS KAIZER CHIEFS
Following Kaizer Chiefs dramatic draw against Golden Arrows in the PSL last weekend, Stuart Baxter will hope for calm when his side meet Clint Larsen’s Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday night. Siwelele claimed the Telkom Knockout crown last year and have shown their mettle in cup competitions, but Chiefs recent win at the Free State Stadium certainly gives them the mental edge going into the tie.
Clint Larsen’s side has shown that they do not fear any team in cup football, defeating Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns on their road to Telkom Knockout glory. Backed by their 12th man in the stands, Phunya Sele Sele will look for revenge against the AmaKhosi, who hammered them 3-0 in front of their home fans merely two weeks ago.
Chiefs have been depleted defensively by the loss of Morgan Gould and the possible exclusion of Mulomowandau Mathoho, but Celtic impact striker Lerato Mazine will also be missing from the match. With both teams focusing on their attacking strengths, expect an explosive affair.
|MARITZBURG UNITED VS SUPERSPORT UNITED
Gavin Hunt’s side are experiencing a late surge in form this season. Unbeaten in seven matches and gaining access to the next round of the Caf Confederations Cup, Matsatsantsa are certainly in a confident frame of mind. With the defense of their Nedbank Cup victory last season firmly on their mind, SuperSport will seek to turn their season around and claim yet another cup trophy.
However, they face a Maritzburg United team which has shown excellent creativity in front of the goal the entire campaign and which will not be afraid to unleash their attacking force in a bid to progress to the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup. Led by the tactically astute Ernst Middendorp, the Team of Choice will take the game to SuperSport, in order to try and destabilise Gavin Hunt’s charges.
SuperSport may suffer from fatigue due to their tight schedule but have shown that they have the depth in order to cope with their current demanding run of matches.
|MAMELODI SUNDOWNS VS PLATINUM STARS
Last year’s finalists, Sundowns are desperate to secure a piece of silverware this season but face a potential hurdle in the form of red-hot Dikwena. Placed second in the PSL and led by the electric Thuso Phala, Platinum Stars have not been able to transfer their league form into cup competitions this season, but will view the Nedbank Cup as their last chance to shine. With Cavin Johnson already conceding the league title to Kaizer Chiefs, the Nedbank Cup is all that remains.
With pressure mounting on Pitso Mosimane to secure a cup trophy for the Brazilians, the coach will have to try and dismantle a confident Dikwena. After losing the Telkom Knockout final and the Nedbank Cup final in 2012, Sundowns will seek to go one step further and please their demanding fan base.
However, Sundowns have not beaten Platinum Stars this season, after losing 1-0 and playing to a 1-1 draw earlier in the PSL campaign. This will not be an easy tie for the PSL’s millionaire club and could prove to be their last outing in cup competitions this campaign.
|AFRICAN WARRIORS VS UNITED FC
The battle of minnows will allow for one of the National First Division sides to have a crack at a PSL heavyweight in the semi-finals of the tournament.
United FC will rely on Conrad Madolo, who has scored some superb goals in their Cup journey, including the winner against Cosmos in the round of 16.Warriors will hope Brice Aka can continue on his fine scoring run this season, which has seen the Ivorian striker net 7 goals in 2013.
Lynch Pule is another danger-man for Warriors, as the former SuperSport United and Maritzburg United player will seek to use all his experience during the tie.