Acornbush United coach MacDonald Makhubedu poses with the Nedbank Cup alongside Kaizer Chiefs counterpart Steve Komphela. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – For those born to play the beautiful game, there’s this great sense of urgency that propels them to go out for a kick-about almost every day.

It's in the streets where they hone their skills, where they toughen up and learn not to quit when the going gets tough.

In their matches, nightfall only serves as a match official who declares “time’s up. It’s time to go home now. We’ll pick this up in the morning”.

Day-in, day-out, those driven to play are always preparing, always in anticipation of that momentous day when the game will turn them into icons.

That day has arrived for Mpumalanga-based outfit Acornbush United, who are hosting "Glamour Boys" Kaizer Chiefs at Kabokweni Stadium in the last-16 of the Nedbank Cup on Sunday.

It's a dream clash for the minnows.

On Wednesday, the ABC Motsepe league side held a training session in the morning, before playing two friendly matches that saw them leave the Kwadukuza Stadium at around 7.30pm. The stadium was dark at that time.

There were no murmurings of discontent among the Acornbush players, though. They enjoyed the long day from beginning to end.

Their coach, MacDonald Makhubedu, said their level of commitment made it a pleasant experience to work with the lads on a daily basis.

“This is not just a game of football for them, it is work as well,” Makhubedu said.

“I have over seven players who come from families where mom and dad have passed on. And that means they are now breadwinners for their respective families.

“With the little money they earn at the club, they are the only source of income.

“It pains me to see a player without money, just three days after his salary is paid. Whatever they get here, they send it straight to their respective homes.

“That’s why I believe Chiefs are going to have a very difficult time beating us in our own backyard,” Makhubedu added.

“Not only are these boys talented, they also put in the hard graft, knowing that they cannot afford to lose.

“Losing is a bitter disappointment for the very people dependent on them.

“It’s very difficult to beat such a person. They fight to the bitter end.”

In the 29 league matches they’ve played this season, Acornbush are undefeated at home.

Makhubedu, who served as Jomo Cosmos assistant coach in 2012, said his side’s level of discipline played a significant role in them doing well in the league.

And knocking out Absa Premiership title contenders Cape Town City in the last-32 of the Nedbank Cup a month ago was the turning point for the club.

“It really did. I never had disciplinary issues at this team. These boys always report for training on time,” Makhubedu said.

“They want to achieve something great.

“Also, talking with the likes of Jomo Sono, who is my mentor by the way, is motivating.

“I often call him. He is always encouraging me. He’s a great help and my pillar of strength.”


Saturday Star