The Nedbank Cup final pits PSL champions Kaizer Chiefs against steely SuperSport United in what should be an intriguing contest of different styles
The Nedbank Cup final should prove to be an electric affair between two determined teams on Saturday afternoon at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, as Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United prepare to battle for the lucrative prize.
Chiefs had to hold on by the skin of their teeth in order to secure their eighth PSL title after a late season slump, while SuperSport United finished their season in stronger form despite a final day 3-0 loss against Platinum Stars.
Goal decided to focus on some of the factors where the final could be won or lost for both sides.
|KHUNE VERSUS WILLIAMS
Finals require goalkeeping heroics and the Nedbank Cup final will be no different. Itumeleng Khune is currently in the form of his life, while Ronwen Williams is only beginning to display his repertoire of skills in the local game.
This goalkeeping battle will be long-lasting, as the immensely talented Williams has been named as the heir apparent to Khune’s Bafana Bafana number one spot. Khune may only be four years older than his goalkeeping opponent, but has far more experience than the 21-year-old and has played matches on the biggest stage.
However, Williams is an assured individual and his excellent shot-stopping skills could even be considered to be on par with Khune’s. Experience could win this battle on Saturday afternoon, as the two keepers seek to help their sides secure a clean sheet and perhaps star in an eventual penalty shootout.
|HUNT VERSUS BAXTER
Gavin Hunt knows everything about local cup football and steered SuperSport United to Nedbank Cup glory merely a year ago. The coach is set to move to Bidvest Wits next year and will want to end his prolific career with Matsatsantsa on a note of celebration.
Stuart Baxter has proven his critics wrong by helping Chiefs win their first PSL title in eight years, but has struggled to galvanise his side in the last few weeks of the season as their form, disciplines and energy levels begin to slip away.
Hunt’s proven experience of South African cup football may give his side the ascendancy on Saturday, while his will to win has filtered throughout his hard-working team. Baxter will need to re-energise his troops and perhaps even re-think the tried and trusted tactics which has taken his team to PSL glory and a cup final.
It is the end of a long season for both teams. SuperSport United have played more games than any other South African club side this campaign, due to their cup and Caf Confederation Cup exploits.
Hunt’s squad has worked tirelessly since the season began and will muster their last reserves of energy in order to face Chiefs on Saturday. AmaKhosi have shown signs of tired legs and tired minds in the last few weeks of the season, which was evident in their poor displays.
However an occasion like the Nedbank Cup final may energise both squads for one last shot at glory, but the eventual winner will need to show more verve than their opponents.
|TACTICS AND MENTALITY
SuperSport United have shown that they do not give up easily during their journey to the showdown against Chiefs, securing a 3-2 extra time win over Platinum Stars in the semi-final.
Their coach has instilled a strong work ethic throughout the spine of the team, which will rely on goals and creativity from Kermit Erasmus, while 37-year-old impact striker Sibusiso Zuma brings vast experience into the attacking third for Matsatsantsa.
Kaizer Chiefs’ passing and pace-fuelled transitional style of play has reaped significant rewards this season, but the team also relies on their strong central defensive pairing of Tefu Mashaimaite and Erick Matoho.
SuperSport United will most likely look to defy Chiefs talented attacking force by focusing on a counter-attacking defensive game, while Chiefs will certainly play to their strengths and not try to change what has become a winning formula. The team which can execute its plans and does not falter under the pressure of playing in a major cup final will emerge as Nedbank Cup champions.