Stars under pressure to shine

2019-01-23 06:01

The 2018-’19 Nedbank Cup round of 32 matches kicking off today (23/01), marks the start of Free State Stars’ defence of the championship.

Ea Lla Koto won the sought-after trophy last year when they beat Maritzburg United 1 – 0, the goal being courtesy of Goodman Dlamini in the final played in Cape Town.

The Nedbank Cup was Stars’ second major trophy, with the first being that of the defunct Coca-Cola Cup in 1996.

They begin the defence of the Nedbank Cup against National First Division (NFD) side Richards Bay.

The match will be played at the Goble Park Stadium in Bethlehem on Saturday (26/01), with the winner qualifying for the round of 16 stage. Kick-off is at 15:00.

Super Eagles and Bloemfontein Celtic will clash at the same venue on Sunday (27/01) at 15:00. The winner of this fixture also qualifies for the round of 16 stage.

Stars are under immense pressure to display the fire-power that saw them win the trophy under former mentor Luc Eymael.

The fixture between Celtic and Eagles is an opportunity for the latter to become one of the teams to eliminate a side in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Clubs that have achieved this feat while in the second-tier rank are Baroka FC and Maluti TVET College. Baroka beat Chiefs 2 – 1 in the semifinal in 2011, while Maluti demolished Pirates 4 – 1 in the round of 32 in 2013.

The tournament is dubbed David versus Goliath, since it pits big clubs against minnows and affords small clubs the chance to make a name for themselves.

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