Defeat for Kaizer Chiefs against Cape Town City in their Nedbank Cup quarter-final at Mbombela Stadium today (3pm kick-off) will almost certainly stretch their trophy-less barren run to four seasons –
a dismal state of affairs for the club supposedly known as the “Cup Kings” of South African football.
Sure, Chiefs are still mathematically in the Absa Premiership title race as they are currently seventh on the log, seven points adrift of pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns, who also have a game in hand.
So, can they pull off a six-match winning streak, while the teams above them such as Sundowns, Orlando Pirates, Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City and SuperSport United drop points to give them the advantage? Improbable.
On the other hand, the Glamour Boys realistically have their fate in their own hands in their pursuit of the Nedbank Cup.
“The league is basically gone. I think we’ve drawn too many games but we’ve got the Nedbank to play for now,” Chiefs defender Daniel Cardoso admitted to the media this past week.
“It’s (nearing) four years without a trophy and we need to stop that. We owe it to the club and our supporters."
For Cardoso and company, winning South African football’s premier cup competition will be easier said than done, though.
Chiefs might be in the last eight of the tournament, but their route there was hardly encouraging. In the last 32, they needed an extra-time own goal against minnows Tornado FC to progress to the last 16.
And it didn’t end there as The Magic FC - a team also regarded as minnows - took the Soweto giants to an extra 30 minutes after regulation time before Chiefs could score three goals. But maybe, facing a familiar foe like Cape Town City will bring out the best from Amakhosi.
However, that too would be stretching it considering that the Citizens have been giant slayers recently, beating Sundowns and Wits to put themselves among the contenders for the league title.
City coach Benni McCarthy might have distanced his team from the “championship talk”, but being three points behind the log leaders obviously gives one reason to believe, right?
In truth, the Capetonians could well be looking beyond today’s encounter. After all, a treble - say the league, Nedbank Cup and the already won MTN8 trophy - wouldn’t give chairman John Comitis any sleepless nights.
In January these same two teams met in the second round of the league and despite Chiefs dominating possession on home soil, the Citizens grabbed a late winner from Dove Edmilson following a blunder by goalkeeper Virgil Vries.
But a lot has happened since then.
McCarthy’s troops have been the dark horses in the PSL race, thanks to a sound defensive unit led by skipper Thamsanqa Mkhize and a potent attacking unit marshalled by the rejuvenated Kermit Erasmus, who’s scored three goals in the last four matches.
Chiefs, to their credit, have also improved though and have a "12th man" on their side - in the form of astute coach Ernst Middendorp. But four months into the job, he is still unhappy about their poor scoring rate.
“In future, one parameter required for everyone to be identified with is goal scoring,” Middendorp stated.
“It’s not only for the strikers to score, but if you bring a defender in, you ask, ‘is he helpful in terms of goal scoring’?”
With the hype of this encounter at its peak, this promises to be a thriller!