Pirates and Chiefs avoid last 16 clash
With just a minute or so to go in the Nedbank Cup last 16 draw yesterday, an excited hush fell around the Melrose Arch auditorium.
Only two balls were left in the pot, with Orlando Pirates' opponents yet to be decided - and one of those two was Kaizer Chiefs. Could it be another Soweto derby was on the agenda in a few days time?
Premier Soccer League CEO Kjetil Siem's hand reached into the pot and pulled out .... ALS Puk Tawana. With no disrespect to the Potchesfstroom minnows, who knocked out Platinum Stars in the previous round, the bubbling tension receded, and Chiefs, the last team out of the pot, will travel to the Mother City to face FC Cape Town.
Perhaps it is better for the organisers and fans that Amakhosi and Buccaneers do not meet this early in the competition, leaving room for, like in the Telkom Knockout, a Soweto derby semifinal, or even a final.
First, however, Pirates and Chiefs have to focus on the task at hand, and both sides have previously been knocked out of this competition by lower league outfits - Chiefs losing at the hands of Pretoria University only last season.
"I believe in football the past is nothing, there is only the present and the future," said Chiefs' ever philosophical coach, who might have added that it was Muhsin Ertugral, and not himself who was in charge when Chiefs lost to Tuks.
FC Cape Town, however, who finished fourth in the Coastal Stream this season, and who knocked out iKapa Sporting in the last round, have promised that they are not scared of the in-form Amakhosi.
"We are not afraid of Chiefs, in fact when I spoke to our coach (Slovakian Josef Vukosic) before the draw, he said that was who he wanted to play," said FC Cape Town assistant coach and team manager Keith Daniels.
Pirates coach Ruud Krol, meanwhile, said there was no way his side would be taking ALS Puk Tawana lightly in the last 16.
"It is the last 16 and there are no weak teams," said Krol, who added "we will have to look at what we can get," when asked if he would be doing research on his opponents.
Generally, the draw kept Absa Premiership sides apart, with just two ties involving teams exclusively from the top flight. Nedbank Cup holders Moroka Swallows will be hosting AmaZulu in the last 16, while Ajax Cape Town are at home to Free State Stars.
"AmaZulu beat us 4-0 in our home league fixture, so we want to take revenge," said Swallows coach Rainer Zobel, who added that his team did not feel under pressure in the defence of their title.
"I am a new coach, and our team has a lot of young players, so there may be pressure on Swallows, but it is not on the team," he said.
AmaZulu coach Neil Tovey said it would be a battle between two of 2010's top teams.
"I think three teams stand out this year: ourselves, Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs," said Tovey.
"We beat them (Swallows) in both league games. We beat them 4-0 away. I'll settle for half of that in the cup!"
Nedbank Cup Last 16 draw (dates and venues tba)
Winners Park v MP Black Aces
Moroka Swallows v AmaZulu
Ajax Cape Town v Free State Stars
Mamelodi Sundowns v Black Leopards
BIDVest Wits v Thanda Royal Zulu
Jomo Cosmos v Pretoria University
Orlando Pirates v ALS Puk Tawana
FC Cape Town v Kaizer Chiefs