Carling Knockout: TS Galaxy and beyond ... Rockets fired up for final

Mlungisi Mbunjana of TS Galaxy, right, is ready to make history in the Carling Knockout final. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Mlungisi Mbunjana of TS Galaxy, right, is ready to make history in the Carling Knockout final. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Published Dec 15, 2023


TS Galaxy new crop of players and technical team aim to make history and crown their time together by clinching the inaugural Carling Knockout Cup.

Established by former agent-turned-administrator Tim Sukazi eight years ago, Galaxy are an outfit synonymous with records in the PSL.

They etched their name in the history books in 2018, becoming the first team from the second tier to win the coveted Nedbank Cup.

The ground-breaking feat for the Rockets was made more special by the fact that their win came over the mighty Kaizer Chiefs, who were once regarded as the cup kings of SA football.

But while that historic moment will not be erased, a lot has happened since. Galaxy are all but a new team – with new players and coaching staff.

Coach Sead Ramovic has brought a breath of fresh air into the side since he took over the reins in 2021.

Ramovic and his men are playing with flair and unity, a feat that has seen many tipping them as a perennial top-eight team – and for the top three in future.

Their hard work has paid off so far, with the team reaching Saturday’s Knockout Cup final against Stellenbosch FC at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (3pm kick-off).

Moses Mabhida is the same venue where they plotted the downfall of the Amakhosi in 2018.

But while they’ll want the same results, captain Mlungisi Mbunjana says they want to write their own piece of history.

“It would mean a lot to us because when people talk about TS Galaxy, they always refer to 2018 when they beat Chiefs. But from that squad, none of the players are in this team,” he said.

“We are a whole different squad, players and technical team – pretty much everyone (is new). It’s only the management that’s not new.

“It’s a whole new group that wants to achieve something and write their own history. So, I think it’d be great to achieve something as a group.”

But despite Galaxy and Stellenbosch reaching the final of the ‘beer cup’, it’s safe to say that the Western Cape club have been on form throughout.

Galaxy have won one and lost two of their last three games in the league, while Stellies are enjoying a purple patch, having won three on the trot.

Mbunjana, 33, has been around long enough to know that form counts for nothing in knockout matches. Hence, it’s no use focusing on Stellies.

“I don’t want to focus on Stellies. I want to focus on us. A cup final is rock ’n roll. Our head-to-head in the league or how many times we’ve faced each other doesn’t matter,” he explained.

“On the day, it will be a different game. Everybody feels different – it will be a different game and feeling. It’s just about who’s willing to do more on the day and get a chance to win the final.”

Galaxy are expected to do more as they’ll have an extra advantage on their side: experience. They are made up of a blend of youth and experience, while Stellies are more youthful.

Galaxy’s senior trio of Bernard Parker – who is currently injured – Thamsanqa Gabuza and Vuyo Mere have played and won cup finals, while Stellies recently won their first semi-final on their third attempt in a row.

“I think it will help us a lot to have guys that have been in those situations – played for bigger clubs and know what it’s like to play in a cup final,” Mbunjana said.

“I think that (having the experienced players) might give us an edge in terms of preparations – mentally and otherwise – to win the match.”