Amakhosi must tread carefully in final
Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams have always upstaged their National First Division (NFD) opponents in the Nedbank Cup final.
TS Galaxy will go into Saturday's decider against Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium (7pm) looking to rewrite the history books.
Known for their enterprising style of football - they claim comparisons with Spanish giants Barcelona - the Mpumalanga-based side knocked out PSL opposition in Golden Arrows in the semifinals.
The Rockets impressed in their match against Abafana Bes'thende, with striker Zakhele Lepasa coming off the match to net a brace.
But they will certainly go in as the underdogs against Amakhosi, who will be expected to end their four-season trophy drought.
Chiefs, however, will be well aware that matches against lower league opponents are very difficult, especially since they go all out to try to show the nation what they can do against teams from the top flight. Since their dream is to play in the Premiership, matches of this nature are viewed as a shop window.
Chiefs only scraped through in the first round after managing an extra time 1-0 win against ABC Motsepe League side, Tornado, from the Eastern Cape.
It's with this in mind that Chiefs will tread carefully against Galaxy. After all, NFD sides have shown in past finals that anything is possible.
In 2008, Mamelodi Sundowns scored through Lerato Chabangu in the 88th minute to win 1-0 against then NFD side Mpumalanga Black Aces in what was a tough match at Johannesburg Stadium.
A year later Moroka Swallows also managed to beat University of Pretoria 1-0 at Rand Stadium, courtesy of a goal by Brazilian defender, Vinicius Da Silva.
Three years later, in 2011 at Mbombela Stadium, Black Leopards shocked Orlando Pirates by taking an early lead in the second half through Mongezi Bobe in a final that could have also gone either way.
But the Buccaneers rallied back to win 3-1 with a brace from Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Isaac Chansa.
It promises to be another tough final this time in KwaZulu Natal.
Chiefs may be favourites, but they haven't been convincing in their performances of late.
Galaxy, meanwhile, would be buoyed up by their good performance against Arrows, which got the nation talking.
Whether Dan Malesela's charges can produce against Chiefs, guided by Ernst Middendorp, remains to be seen.
PSL v NFD past finals
Since the launch of the Nedbank Cup in 2008, there have been three cup finals involving teams from the top flight against those from the second tier. Here are the results.
- Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 Mpumalanga Black Aces (2008)
- Moroka Swallows 1-0 University of Pretoria (2009)
- Orlando Pirates 3-1 Black Leopards (2011)
Players who will be influential when Amakhosi meet Galaxy in Nedbank Cup final
Kaizer Chiefs Khama Billiat (forward)
The long-range strike he scored against Chippa in the semifinals is what you can expect from the forward when he's on song. Billiat is not the kind of player you leave unattended, even when he's not having the best of days out there on the park. Galaxy will have to keep a close eye on him.
Willard Katsande (midfielder)
Katsande has come in for some criticism this campaign, but the one thing you can't take away from him is the commitment to the cause. Against Chippa, even coach Ernst Middendorp felt he deserved to be Man-of-the-Match (but that honour went to Billiat). What matters in the end for Chiefs would be to take the trophy home and Katsande could play a pivotal role in terms of disrupting Galaxy's play, which is based on a passing game.
Andriamirado Andrianarimanana (midfielder)
A few months ago, the Madagascan international wouldn't have made this list, let alone be expected to play in the final. But "Dax" has shown true ability in the middle of the park and has been earning some rave reviews, especially from his coach. He'd be expected to continue his good form and help Chiefs win the trophy.
Lwude Mpakumpaku (goalkeeper)
Galaxy's play is based on a build up from the back and Mpakumpaku starts those attacks by finding the players in the right positions in taking the game to the opposition. Calm on the ball, Mpakumpaku could be key in this clash in terms of guiding his defence and starting the play from his goal area.
Nation Ndlovu (midfielder)
He's undoubtedly a dominant force in midfield and the likes of Katsande will not have it easy against him. Ndlovu keeps things simple and it's his passing game that gets Galaxy going from midfield.
Zakhele Lepasa (forward)
Galaxy were struggling to link up with their forwards until Lepasa stepped in against Golden Arrows, coming off the bench in the second half and made a huge impression. Galaxy can dominate possession, but are sometimes let down by the final ball. This is where Lepasa comes in; if he starts, Chiefs won't have it easy.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Kaizer Chiefs Chippa United 2-4 Chiefs (semifinals)
Chiefs 2-0 Cape Town City (quarterfinals)
The Magic 0-3 Chiefs (last 16)
Tornado 0-1 Chiefs (last 32)
TS Galaxy Arrows 1-3 Galaxy (semifinals)
Cape Umoya 1-2 Galaxy (quarterfinals)
Jomo Cosmos 0-1 Galaxy (last 16)
Umvoti 1-3 Galaxy (last 32)
Galaxy 5-2 Ajax Cape Town (preliminary round)
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