Nedbank Cup defending champions TS Galaxy head into tonight’s fixture against Chippa United a pale shadow of the team they were when the NFD campaigners upset the odds last season.
The Rockets, as the GladAfrica Championship hopefuls are known to their followers, begin their defence of the Ke Yona tournament in Port Elizabeth as the back of a rather poor run in the league.
Galaxy are fifth from the bottom of the NFD log – just four points off the regelation zone – after 20 matches.
Team captain and regular goalkeeper Ludwe Mpakumpaku tried to justify his side’s shortcomings as they head back into the spotlight tonight.
“Winning the Nedbank Cup actually made us a target for a lot of teams. It’s like being a big team of the NFD and everyone brings their A-game against us,” said Mpakumpaku, who alongside his coach Dan “Dance” Malesela, are former Chippa employees.
Galaxy have not won in their last five leagues outings but Mpakumpaku warned that it’s going to be a different story altogether against a premier division opponent.
“Considering the brand of football we play, it’s much easier to play against PSL [Premiership] teams because they play a similar style [as us].
When it comes to GladAfrica [NFD football], it’s a fight for space and it becomes tricky.”
The goalminder from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape also argued that “not really much has changed in terms of how we play”.
“We are still playing pretty much the same from last season to this season. But we still miss a lot of chances than we used to last season.”
He also partly blamed Galaxy’s slump to the after-affects of the team’s debut in the CAF Confederation Cup where they were eliminated just before the group stage.
Galaxy had earned their right to compete in the second tier continental club competition by virtue of being the Nedbank Cup champions, a feat they attained at the expense of Kaizer Chiefs in last year’s final of the Ke Yona tournament.
“I guess we thought we could go further than we went but we lost and it became a bit difficult for us to adjust and focus on the league.
“That [the setback] may have actually played a small role in where we are right now. but we can’t make excuses as we have a chance to turn things around.”
Chippa United vs TS Galaxy (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 7.30pm)
Ajax Cape Town vs TS Sporting (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm)
Stellenbosch FC vs Maritzburg United (Athlone Stadium, 8pm)
Passion FC vs Real Kings (Kameelrivier Stadium, 3pm)
Bloemfontein Celtic vs AmaZulu (Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium, 3pm)
Amavarara FC vs Super Eagles (Sisa Dukashe Stadium, 3pm)
Vaal University of Technology vs Golden Arrows (Dobsonville Stadium, 3pm)
Kaizer Chiefs vs Royal Eagles (FNB Stadium, 6pm)
Mamelodi Sundowns vs SuperSport United (Loftus Versfeld Stadium, 8.15pm)
Highlands Park vs Uthongathi (Makhulong Stadium, 8.15pm)
Jomo Cosmos vs Hungry Lions (Olën Park Stadium, 3pm)
Orlando Pirates vs Bidvest Wits (Orlando Stadium, 3pm)
Black Leopards vs North West University (Thohoyandou Stadium, 3pm)
Mbombela United vs Cape Town City (KaNyamazane Stadium, 3pm)
Zizwe United vs Happy Wanderers (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm)
Polokwane City vs Baroka (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 7.30pm)