The Nedbank Cup Round of 32 resumed on Wednesday with several intriguing clashes on offer.
In the only all Premier Soccer League (PSL) clash of the night, Platinum Stars welcomed Baroka FC to the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace. In spite of Dikwena’s precarious league situation, they looked to take the game to the away side, and threatened early on.
With only fourth minutes played, Letsie Koapeng had a glorious chance to break the deadlock after breaching Baroka’s offside trap, but his shot with only the keeper to beat left much to be desired. While Baroka came into the encounter and controlled the clash, Bakgaga needed to be constantly aware of the threat of Stars players such Riyaad Norodien and Lehlogonololo Masalesa. The duo proved a handful for the Baroka defence, but they could not affect the score line as both sides went into the break level.
The second half saw Baroka put on a far more improved performance and they were rewarded for their efforts when the referee pointed to the spot with just over 20 minutes remaining. Baroka’s Gift Motupa stepped up to the plate and slotted the decisive goal past the despairing Stars keeper, and while Baroka went down to 10-men late in the second half, stars would not find an equaliser.
Meanwhile, in Cape Town in an all National First Division (NFD) affair Stellenbosch hosted Highlands Park. The clash promised much excitement as the last time the two sides met in the league, the clash ended 3-0 in favour of Highlands. But prior to kick-off, it seemed that this time around the Lions of the North had their priorities set elsewhere as they made several changes to their line-up. The gluttony of changes proved to be a stumbling block early on as Stellenbosch scored the only goal of the first half through Iqraam Rayners.
Rayners looked dangerous throughout the clash and while he was unable to convert any of his other opportunities in the second half, it would be his solitary strike which separated the two sides as the final whistle sounded.
Elsewhere in the country, Free State Stars were made to sweat as they needed extra time to overcome a plucky Super Eagles. The clash which was previously abandoned due to the wet conditions in the Free State over the weekend lived up to its expectations as a potential banana skin.
Ea Lla Koto defender Rooi Mahamutsa found the back of the net in stoppage time, cancelling out Eagles' Treasure Mbuli's first half goal. The goal shifted the momentum to the away side, and Mohammed Anas found the back of the net five minutes into the first period of extra time. The Ghanaians’ strike would prove enough for Stars as they progressed into the next round thanks to the 2-1 victory.
As Stars confirmed their passage into the next round of the competition, they will also be joined by another NFD outfit in Richards Bay. The KwaZulu-Natal-based club asserted their superiority over minnows Young Tigers, walking away with a 5-0 victory in the day’s early kick-off.