Don't take Tawana lightly, Bucs

By Tshepang Mailwane

Steve Komphela was flabbergasted down on the touch line at Olen Park Stadium in Potchefstroom. Perhaps, rightfully so.

All he could do was look on helplessly as ALS Puk Tawana, a group of unknown teenagers, literally ran rings around his more experienced Platinum Stars side.

To make matters worse for not only Komphela, but the club as well, they were knocked out by these exciting youngsters, losing the game 3-2.

In only just 90 minutes, the boys of Als Puk Tawana, particularly two-goal hero and captain Jabulani Shongwe and Lebepe Phetolo, had raised many an eyebrow.

Komphela would have predicted an easy win for Stars, especially having beaten this very same side 8-0 and 6-0 in friendly games a few weeks before.

This was nothing new though. It's become a norm that every season, a club, or clubs, from lower divisions make a huge impact in the Nedbank Cup.

So this season among the giant killers are Tawana. And one feels that no matter how far they go in this year's tournament, they will long be remembered as the teenagers who knocked out a PSL club.

Formed seven years ago, Tawana are the reserve side of Absa Premiership club Mamelodi Sundowns and are coached by former AmaZulu caretaker coach Zipho Dlangalala, who used to be the head of development at Downs.

The North West University (NWU), better known as Pukke, bought the franchise of Tawana FC from Ikageng in Potchefstroom. At the time (2003) Tawana were competing in the SAB Regional League.

It took three years for them to get promoted to the Vodacom League where they've been playing ever since. With only teenagers in their squad, they finished seventh this season in North West.

Sundowns launched an Under-19 team in February last year and then joined forces with Tawana, bringing in players from the Transnet School of Excellence and various clubs around the country. Former Downs captain Dan Malesela, now no longer with the club, Ted Dumitru and Dlangalala were responsible for bringing in the players.

Tawana was to be Downs' reserve side, accommodating players on the brink of being promoted to the first team.

Siyanda Xulu, now in camp with Bafana Bafana in Germany, played for Tawana before being promoted at the start of the season, and Dumitru believes more will be promoted in the near future.

"Promoting one player at a time will break their momentum and we do not want to see that happening. We would rather promote a group of 10 or more at a time to the senior squad."

Tawana play Orlando Pirates in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup on Saturday, in their biggest game yet. Dlangalala believes this is an opportunity of a lifetime for the lads.

"It is not often that these youngsters get an opportunity to rub shoulders with one of the glamour sides in the country. It's a big game for the boys and I believe they will give a good account of themselves."

Match details

Venue: Orlando Stadium

Time: 8.15pm

Prediction: Pirates will be too strong for Tawana




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