Eagles cruise to next stage

2018-09-26 06:01
Matshediso Likoebe of Sibanye Golden Stars (white and blue) tapping the ball over Mpho Rathetsane of Lijabatho during a Nedbank Cup preliminary knockout match played at the Zoka Baloyi Stadium on Saturday, 22 September. Photo: Teboho Setena

Matshediso Likoebe of Sibanye Golden Stars (white and blue) tapping the ball over Mpho Rathetsane of Lijabatho during a Nedbank Cup preliminary knockout match played at the Zoka Baloyi Stadium on Saturday, 22 September. Photo: Teboho Setena

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Bethlehem-based football outfit Super Eagles have cruised through to the next stage of the lucrative Nedbank Cup for the 2018-’19 edition.

This is after they edged out favourites Mangaung Unite and Sibanye Golden Stars to secure a slot in the Free State preliminary final of the football competition.

Eagles attained this after a hard-fought 4 – 1 win on penalties over gutsy Mangaung in the final of the preliminary knockout of teams campaigning in the ABC Motsepe League administered by the South African Football Association (Safa).

The semi-final of the competition took place in Bloemfontein on Monday (24/09).

The winner between Mangaung and Eagles was decided on penalties after the two clubs finished the game deadlocked on 0 – 0 in regulation time of 90 minutes.

Mangaung easily overcame two-time provincial winners Sibanye Golden Stars by 2 – 0 in their semi-final round, while Eagles beat Dikwena by 5 – 1 in the other fixture of the preliminary knockout.

Stars reached the semi-final after a hard-fought win over Lijabatho from Viljoens­kroon.

Their match was played over two days at the Zoka Baloyi Stadium in Welkom due to bad weather conditions and unavailability of floodlights. After they drew 2-all in Saturday’s match, Stars emerged victorious on day two, winning by 3 - 1 against Lijabatho.

As the Free State winner of the ABC Motsepe League, Eagles will clash the winner of the SAB League on 27 October with the winner thereof, qualifying for the last-32 group stage of the Nedbank Cup.

The SAB League winner will be known on 20 October after the five regional winners had played their preliminary matches.

This is the first time Eagles managed to reach this level of the tournament.

Bloemfontein Young Tigers and Stars from Welkom dominated the competition over the years.

In 2017 Tigers reached the last-32 group stage of the competition after beating Stars in the preliminary knockout stage.

The Welkom-based side, Stars, attained this feat in 2010 and in 2015.

In recent years Tigers managed to reach the Nedbank Cup last-32 group stage in 2013-’14 and in 2017-’18.

Tigers’ milestone was reaching the semi-final and quarter-final under two previous sponsorships.

In 1998, Tigers managed to reach the semi-final of the Bobsave Super Bowl and the quarter final of the Absa Cup in 2005-’06.

The Nedbank Cup is South Africa’s biggest knockout football competition as it features all clubs in the five divisions, Premier Soccer League, National First Division, ABC Motsepe League and SAB League, as well as the lower rank of the local football associations.

This year’s will be the 12th time that the competition is held.

Free State Stars are the current champions of the competition having won it the first time when they beat Maritzburg United by 1 - 0 in the final round in Cape Town in May.

This was Ea Lla Koto’s first ever Nedbank Cup title and the second major trophy after 24 years.

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