Kaizer Chiefs seek consistency in Nedbank Cup
JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs have a mountain to climb in their quest for Nedbank Cup glory, considering they have some holes they need to plug before running like a well-oiled machine.
Chiefs’ biggest problem this season has been their inability to perform consistently week in and week out, having only shown glimpses of resurgence early this year with three wins and two draws in five league matches.
It was a false alarm that they had turned the corner, highlighted by their defeat to Orlando Pirates a week ago. While those scars may still be fresh, Chiefs must turn their focus to the Nedbank Cup tomorrow (5pm kickoff).
In this competition five wins guarantees silverware and a cheque of R7 million. But for Chiefs that has been a tall order in recent seasons, as they have fallen against so-called minnows.
In the opening weekend of the competition, they’ll host Gladafrica Championship side Richards Bay at the FNB Stadium. Without sufficient information on their opponents, according to their pre-match comments, Chiefs can’t afford to take anything for granted.
But perhaps a side that's mastering the art of knockout competition is Pirates. The Buccaneers’ campaign in the MTN8 cup was nigh on perfection, having conceded one goal in four matches – in the final against BloemfonteinCeltic – while scoring eight.
Captain Happy Jele has urged his teammates to reignite their MTN8 fighting spirit and desire to win when they open their cup campaign against second tier side Uthongathi FC at home, the Orlando Stadium, today (3pm kick-off).
Pirates have endured a roller-coaster outing in the league where they trail leaders and champions Mamelodi Sundowns by eight points. But with that being a marathon, their immediate focus will be on the Nedbank Cup.
Clermont’s Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium will serve the main attraction of the weekend. The in-form Golden Arrows will host equally high-flying Amazulu in the Kwazulu-natal derby today (5pm kick-off).
At the helm of these two clubs sit two coaches, who are proving that, indeed, local is lekker. Arrows are coached by Mandla Ncikazi who was promoted from the assistant’s role following Steve Komphela’s departure to Sundowns.
Ncikazi's Abafana Bes’thende have suffered only one defeat in the league this season – they are fourth on the standings with 25 points, eight behind Sundowns.
Benni Mccarthy is commander-in-chief of Usuthu. Since joining the Durban club, Bafana Bafana’s alltime top scorer has brought a breath of fresh air, pulling the team away from the bottom half of the log and closer towards the top four.
Amazulu are seventh on the standings, a position behind Mccarthy’s former employers Cape Town City. Just like most teams in the division, the latter have had a roller-coaster season but they’ll be hell-bent on challenging for this latest trophy up for grabs.
After being knocked out of the MTN8 in the first round, the Citizens will be out to avoid a repetition of that feat when they host Celtic in the last 32 of South Africa’s premier club knockout competition at the Cape Town Stadium today (5pm kick-off).