Stellenbosch aim to rule the country by beating Chiefs
The Nedbank Cup returns to hold the domestic spotlight over the next six days‚ with the potential for giant-killing acts slim‚ but still some crucial clashes for a number of teams.
Not least Kaizer Chiefs‚ who take some indifferent form into a last-16 clash at their home away home against National First Division side Stellenbosch FC at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night‚ a game Amakhosi will be expected win.
Chiefs brushed aside the same opposition 3-0 in the last-32 at the Athlone Stadium 12 months ago and it should be a similarly one-sided contest this campaign.
Stellenbosch are coached by Steve Barker‚ who led second-tier University of Pretoria to the final of the country’s FA Cup in 2009‚ and has the side organised and difficult to break down.
But man for man they are nowhere near the quality of Amakhosi‚ and it is the home side who will be arguably the more desperate of the two for the victory.
Stellenbosch have made no secret of the fact that for them promotion is key this season and a poor run of form has seen them drop to six points outside of the playoff places.
Vladislav Heric will want to make a good impression on his new bosses at Chippa United as he takes his side to Free State Stars earlier that afternoon for the first of back-to-back matches between the pair‚ who meet again in the league in Mdantsane on March 17.
Heric took over from Teboho Moloi at the weekend and to be fair has had little time to work with his players.
Stars‚ who are on a run of just a single defeat in their last 11 matches‚ are one of the most difficult “away days” in the top-flight and it will be a real battle for Chippa to get anything from this fixture.
Baroka FC‚ also with a relatively new‚ interim‚ coach at the helm in MacDonald Makhubedu‚ host Western Cape ABC Motsepe League side Steenberg United and are odds-on to advance to the quarterfinals.
Bloemfontein Celtic coach Veselin Jelusic will be keen to arrest a run of poor form when they take on NFD side Richards Bay on Sunday afternoon. Celtic have just a single win in their last nine matches.
At the same time there is a KwaZulu-Natal Derby between second-tier Royal Eagles and Maritzburg United.
The two sides share Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg‚ but Eagles have decided to take the game to the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban‚ much to the annoyance of United.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is expected to field a weakened side when the Tshwane side host EC Bees on Tuesday night for what should be a formality‚ with Sundowns having never lost to third-tier opposition.
And the best may have well been saved for last when in-form Orlando Pirates travel to Cape Town City next Wednesday for what looks the pick of the ties.
City will relish the opportunity to beat the Soweto giants as Pirates seek a third Nedbank Cup final in a row having lost in the last two seasons‚ both times to SuperSport United‚ in the decider.
The last-16 gets underway on Friday night though‚ as AmaZulu host second-tier Ubuntu Cape Town‚ who already have a Premier League scalp to their name this season after beating Polokwane City in the previous round.
Nedbank Cup last-16 -
AmaZulu v Ubuntu Cape Town (King Zwelithini Stadium‚ 8pm)
Free State Stars v Chippa United (Goble Park‚ 3.30pm)
Baroka FC v Steenberg United (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Kaizer Chiefs v Stellenbosch FC (Moses Mabhida Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
Royal Eagles v Maritzburg United (Princess Magogo Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Bloemfontein Celtic v Richards Bay (Dr Molemela Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Mamelodi Sundowns v EC Bees (Loftus Versfeld Stadium‚ 7.30pm)
Cape Town City v Orlando Pirates (Cape Town Stadium‚ 7.30pm)