Great weekend fare for fans

2010-05-08 00:00

THE league season may be over, and Maritzburg United are no longer in the competition, but there are still two choice Nedbank Cup quarter-finals for football fans in KwaZulu-Natal to choose from this weekend.

Football fans in Piet­ermaritzburg have been preparing to put live football action behind them after Maritzburg United’s Nedbank first-round defeat to AmaZulu ended the PMB club’s season. Many fans will have to settle for watching World Cup games on TV.

However, with venues in Durban all booked up over the weekend, AmaZulu moved their Nedbank quarter-final to PMB’s Harry Gwala Stadium tonight, where they will face last year’s upstart finalists, First Division team Pretoria University.

Tomorrow at King’s Park in Durban Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates face off in easily the biggest match of the quarters, which could on any other occasion have been a Cup final. With the prize of a globally televised final in the first match at Soccer City on May 22, there is everything to play for in the weekend’s quarter-finals.

AmaZulu will be wary of Pretoria University, who have a good record in the Nedbank, having stunned the pundits by reaching the final last season, where they lost to Moroka Swallows.

Many of the star players from that side were sold on to PSL clubs and wily coach Steve Barker has had to rebuild the side, resulting in Tuks finishing a disappointing sixth in the NFD Inland Stream this season.

They have had a good run so far in the Nedbank again, though, indicating that AmaZulu might be given a tricky time tonight.

Tukkies beat NFD champions Vasco Da Gama, who will compete in the PSL next season, 5-1 in the first round and freshly relegated Jomo Cosmos on penalties in the last 16.

Still, if Neil Tovey’s AmaZulu keep their heads tonight, they should prevent a repeat of last season’s heroics by Tuks.

“They’ve got a couple of inexperienced players at the back, so that’s what we’ll be looking to exploit,” said Usuthu defender Warren Bishop, one of the players who campaigned for Tuks last season, after which he was snapped up by a bigger club.

“If we get into their faces, I think we’ve got the players to capitalise on that.

“We’ve fallen short in two semi-finals this season [MTN8 and Telkom Cup], so we intend going all the way in this competition.”

Tovey will have Zambian defender Kampamba Chintu back from suspension from the team that beat Swallows on penalties in the previous round.

Another player coming up against a previous club in the quarters will be Sundowns’ diminutive forward Lebohang “Cheeseboy” Mokoena. The skilful trickster’s goals dried up for a few seasons at Pirates, resulting in him being benched and eventually sold off to the Brazilians.

Mokoena has surprised many by bouncing back to form at Sundowns, where he created and scored goals for the runners-up in the past PSL season. “It is not about me playing against Pirates,” Mokoena said this week. “This is about Sundowns playing, and I’m ready to play another game against Pirates since I left and help my team through to the next round.”

Mokoena will be a key player against the Bucs for a Sundowns team who have been hit hardest by contributions to the Bafana Bafana World Cup build-up squad that started this week at Wits University, in which six Downs players are taking part.

Today: Wits University v FC Cape Town (Milpark, 3 pm — live on SABC1), AmaZulu v University of Pretoria (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport4

Tomorrow: Free State Stars v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Charles Mopeli Stadium, 3 pm — live on SABC1), Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates (King’s Park, 3 pm — live on SuperSport4)

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