It’s David vs Goliath

2011-05-28 00:00

WHEN Orlando Pirates and Black Leopards meet in the final of the 2011 Nedbank Cup today, history will be made irrespective of which side wins. The final is scheduled to take place at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit.

The Buccaneers are in line to claim a treble of trophies this season and if they do run out victorious they will be the first South African team to win three separate trophies in a season. If Leopards win, on the other hand, they will be the first NFD side to lift the Nedbank Cup.

Still, neither side says they are thinking about history being made, but are rather focusing on the game at hand.

Going into the match, according to Leopards’ coach Sunday Chidzambwa, all the pressure is on Pirates,

“We are not expected to win. Pirates are the PSL team and all the pressure will be on them. We have nothing to lose and will play our normal football.”

Lidoda Duvha are the third First Division team to qualify for the Final since the launch of the Nedbank Cup in 2008. They follow in the footsteps of Mpumalanga Black Aces (2008) and University of Pretoria (2009).

And the Limpopo team have been impressive en-route to the final having scored 10 goals and conceded six. Along the way Leopards have defeated Thanda Royal Zulu (2-1), BTX Liverpool (3-1), Vasco da Gama (3-2) and Baroka FC (2-2; 3-2 on penalties) in the Last 32, Last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

“We have enjoyed this competition and I think the way we have played has shown that. We are looking forward to the final and we feel we can cause an upset,” suggested the coach.

On his upcoming opponents, Chidzambwa said: “Pirates are a good team and they have good players all over the park. It would be silly to single any out because they can all be dangerous. We will be relying on our good team spirit and certain key players to lead by example.”

For Orlando Pirates, the possibility of another cup would be the perfect “cherry on top”, according to Dikgang Mabalane.

“Obviously to win the treble would be a great way to end our season, but we are just focusing on Saturday’s game and are not thinking about that. We will also definitely not underestimate Leopards.”

The NFD side from Limpopo have shown they can find the back of the net, but according to Pirates defender Happy Jele they will struggle to score in the final.

“We have a solid defence and Leopards will not break us down easily. It is my job to keep it tight at the back and I plan on doing my job,” Jele promised.

Pirates certainly do have an impressive defensive record having only conceded one goal en-route to the final. They have, however, struggled to score and have only netted six goals. On the way to the final the Buccaneers defeated Mamelodi Sundowns (1-0), United FC (3-1), Free State Stars (1-0) and MP Black Aces (1-0) in the Last 32, Last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Still, this does not bother either Jele or Mabalane. As Jele explained, “If we keep it tight at the back I am confident my team-mates can find the goals up front.”

In head-to-head stats, Leopards and Pirates have met in three previous cup matches since 2001/02. The first two came in the forerunner to the Nedbank Cup and were won 2-0 and 4-0 by the Buccaneers.

The teams’ last cup meeting was in the first round of the league cup in the 2005/06 season. They played to a 2-2 draw after extra-time before Pirates won the penalty shootout 4-3.

In all competitions, Lidoda Duvha and Bucs have met in 17 matches. Pirates have won 12 of those encounters; Leopards just one. Their most recent meeting was in the 2007/08 PSL season: a goalless draw in a home game for Orlando Pirates.

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