JOHANNESBURG – Black Leopards’ last line of defence el supremo King Ndlovu believes that they have to revive Thohoyandou Stadium’s slaughterhouse tag when they welcome Bidvest Wits in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup tonight.
That leaf will be taken from a book that’s still fresh in their minds after beating Orlando Pirates 5-4 on penalties in the previous round of the competition late last month.
However, what will propel Lidoda Duvha to the menace that Black Leopards are at home is the continuity of their sound defence - after Christmas they conceded only two goals in three matches, a win and two draws.
“In the last two games, it was very difficult because we conceded six goals, but we need to stand up and get back to winning ways. All is forgotten about the last two games, because when we play at home, we are much stronger and I feel like we are going to go through the next stage,” Ndlovu said after their recent back-to-back away losses in the league.
The last time these teams clashed, Leopards were at the receiving end in Venda following a strike from Wits’ Gabadinho Mhango.
A lot has happened since then. English coach Dylan Kerr fully assumed the head coaching post - he watched that game from the stands - and Leopards enjoyed some pleasing results at home under his tutelage.
“It’s not about revenge because this is a cup game and it can go to anyone,” Ndovu said in the build up to this encounter. “But when we are playing at home, we have to make sure that we win every day. It doesn’t matter who comes, but the mentality should stay the same and make sure that we win all home games.”
On the road though, they’ve recently been ordinary. They were humiliated by Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns by three goals apiece in the space of three days.
In between their last victory, against Pirates, and the loss to Celtic there were the PSL monthly awards - a recognition that’s deemed to bring a dark cloud over the teams after it is received.
Subsequently, that appeared to be the case because the defeats came after Kerr and Mwape Musunda bagged the December/January Coach and Player of the Month recognitions respectively.
Proceedings on the road haven’t been rosy for Wits either, as they endured their first away loss in 10 matches, to Highlands Park last Saturday in the Absa Premiership.
However, the lanky goalkeeper believes that the league and cup competitions are different propositions due to the number of rotations in the team.
“I honestly don’t think (that league form counts in the domestic competitions),” Ndlovu said. “During cup competitions there’s lots of changes in the team, and all the form goes outside the window.”
Having dragged Pirates to penalties in their last home game, Ndlovu hopes they’ll eliminate the Clever Boys in regulation time.
However, if they go to penalties, he is adamant they’ll be equal to the task considering they are fresher, having played last Wednesday, while Wits were in action on Saturday.@Mihlalibaleka