Sekhukhune United head coach MacDonald Makhubedu has some fond memories of the Nedbank Cup.
Since he guided the now-defunct Sivutsa Stars to the last 16 of the 2011 tournament, the tactician from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga has caused an upset or two in the Ke Yona cup with unfashionable clubs over the years – his legendary live post-match TV interview when he threw shade at former Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela four years ago is an example.
Makhubedu was in charge of second-tier side Acornbush United at the time, and he claimed that his side didn’t learn anything from Amakhosi despite a 2-1 defeat in the last 16 clash in April 2017.
The 38-year-old coach this week said he had moved on from that incident, which he described as being “too emotional”.
Instead, Makhubedu, who is now coaching GladAfrica Championship newcomers Sekhukhune United, is hoping to build new on-field memories in a cup competition that pits the so-called minnows against the more fancied opponents.
Sekhukhune will set in motion the first of the David versus Goliath clashes of this year’s competition when they take on Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Durban in the last 32 on Friday.
“I have had my best moments in the Nedbank Cup, which I believe contributed massively in my development as a coach, much as the tournament has given amateur clubs and players a stage to showcase their talent,” Makhubedu told City Press this week.
He also narrated the sequence of events that he regarded as a good omen that preceded the upsets he engineered previously.
“I reached the last 16 stage with Sivutsa in our debut season in the NFD in 2011,” he said.
“We were number one with Acornbush when we qualified for the last 16 in 2017, and we were leading the standings when Baroka went all the way to the quarterfinals in 2018 while I was caretaker coach ... now Sekhukhune are top of the [GladAfrica Championship] log,” he pointed out.
Makhubedu, who was appointed by Sekhukhune recently, has steered the team from ninth position to the summit of the table since he replaced Johnny Ferreira three weeks ago.
Against Maritzburg, Makhubedu said the fixture would pit him against his role model, Team of Choice coach Ernst Middendorp.
“Coach Ernst has turned the team around. I like the way he instils discipline in his players and how dedicated he is to his work. I am really looking forward to seeing him,” he said.
Despite the absence of teams from the amateur football structures in this year’s line-up, Makhubedu is not ruling out some giant-slaying acts.
Participants from the ABC Motsepe and SAB leagues have been excluded from the Nedbank Cup draw due to indefinite suspension of amateur football because of the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Makhubedu and his GladAfrica Championship counterparts will head into the 32-club competition as the “Davids”.
The latest edition also saw unprecedented moves in which the likes of Jomo Cosmos and Polokwane City were handed a second bite at the cherry after they were initially knocked out in the qualification round.
Cosmos were eliminated by Sekhukhune, who at the time were coached by Ferreira, while City lost to TS Sporting.
Makhubedu said he believed good progress in the Ke Yona tournament would market the club the same way his former sides gained recognition for their performances.
Other David versus Goliath fixtures will involve all three Soweto giants welcoming their opponents to Gauteng.
Orlando Pirates will host Uthongathi, Swallows face Cape Umoya United, while Chiefs round up the weekend when they clash with Richards Bay. Elsewhere, Baroka FC take on Cape Town Spurs in another game pitting a premier and first division side against each other.
At the end of the first round, four teams from the NFD are still guaranteed a place in the last 16.