Our football pundit previews the 2018 Nedbank Cup last 32 fixtures which take place between Friday 9 February and Wednesday 14 February 2018.
It’s that time of the year once again where teams from lower leagues get to rub shoulders with PSL opponents. Mamelodi Sundowns’ 24-0 drubbing of Powerlines FC and AmaZulu’s 14-0 demolition of Young Ones may forever remain fresh in memory, but those runaway victories won’t overshadow Orlando Pirates’ 4-1 defeat at the hands of Maluti FET College and Kaizer Chiefs coming unstuck against the minnows on several occasions. Amakhosi have been shocked by Baroka while Bakgaga were still a third-tier side, FC Cape Town and University of Pretoria in three consecutive years. Anything can happen!
Friday 9 February
Cape Town All Stars 52/10
Mamelodi Sundowns 7/10
Big rumours doing rounds is that the hosts will be taken over by Moroka Swallows at the end of the current campaign, subject to Cape Town All Stars surviving relegation. Such news can be disturbing to players who are now uncertain about their future. Igugu Lekapa played to a goalless draw with Richards Bay FC to maintain their unbeaten run in 2018 and they’re placed 10th on the log. PSL leaders, Sundowns, earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Cape Town City. The Brazilians will be playing without coach Pitso Mosimane who was sent off in the encounter but their solid team’s only threat heading into this match would be complacency. Back the visitors to come out on top here.
Saturday 10 February
Swallows FC 11/2
Maritzburg United 11/20
The Dube Birds are now under the leadership of Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi and he’s trying to use his financial muscle and influence to help the team regain NFD promotion and possibly return to the PSL in the next few years. They are rumoured to be in talks with Cape Town All Stars over a possible transfer of NFD status. They came back from a goal down to play a 1-1 draw against JDR Stars.
Maritzburg United were beaten 2-1 by Orlando Pirates last week in their first match without Evans Rusike who has joined SuperSport United. Maritzburg United hit the frame of the goal three times in the match and they played so well. I’m expecting the Team of Choice to win this one.
Steenberg United 9/10
Orbit College 32/10
Steenberg United are no pushovers as they lie second on the ABC Motsepe League Western Cape Cape log, only three points behind top-placed Ace FC. The hosts have two games in hand and if they win both they will occupy top spot.
Orbit College from North West have no hope of qualifying as they are 29 points off the pace in fifth position and they’re also in no danger of being relegated. They will be fully focused on this match. They were beaten 3-1 by Platinum Stars Development last week. Tough one to call but I’m leaning towards Steenberg United.
Young Stars 57/10
Chippa United 11/20
Phiva Young Stars are one of the most dangerous teams in the ABC Motsepe League as they top the Mpumalanga Stream. They are nine points clear of second-placed Mlambo Royal Cubs. This year, they have won three and drawn one of their four games, soring 10 and conceding four goals in the process.
Chippa United, joint with Golden Arrows, have drawn the most number of games in the PSL with 11 matches involving them ending in stalemates. They head into this clash off the back of four consecutive draws and last week’s was an exciting 3-3 stalemate with Platinum Stars. An upset is on the cards, get on Young Stars to win.
Orlando Pirates 17/20
Ajax Cape Town 39/10
This is one of the few all-PSL fixtures and Orlando Pirates will have vengeance in their minds as the visitors thrashed them 3-0 two weeks ago. Milutin Sredojevic‘s men though dusted them off and beat Maritzburg United 2-1 this past weekend. We got to see Xola Mlambo in action since joining the mighty Buccaneers from Bidvest Wits and I’m expecting him to start alongside Musa Nyatama in midfield.
Ajax are still second from the bottom after going three matches unbeaten and collecting five out of a possible nine points. The attacking trio of Fagrie Lakay, Tendai Ndoro and Yannick Zakri looks menacing recently. However, Pirates are tipped to avenge last week’s defeat.
Super Eagles 34/10
Free State Stars 17/20
Super Eagles are winless in their last three matches and they find themselves only two spots above the drop zone. I think they will be more concerned about surviving relegation than trying to compete in the Nedbank Cup. Free State Stars are in an unfamiliar third position on the PSL standings and they have won three of their last five matches, drawing one and losing only one. Last week they managed a convincing 2-0 victory over Baroka. Back Ea Lla Koto to win comfortably.
Sunday 11 February
Mariveni United 17/20
EC Bees 36/10
Mariveni United are a team from Limpopo which competes in the fourth tier of SA football, the SAB League and they rose into prominence when they only lost 2-0 to Sundowns in the same competition last year. Their attacking prowess saw Sundowns centre-back Motjeka Madisha being named Man-of-the-Match. Eastern Cape Bees must also be happy to avoid a PSL team this time around as they were demolished 3-0 by Orlando Pirates last season. This will be their chance to advance to the next stage against a team in a lower league than them. Put your money on Mariveni due to home ground advantage.
Kaizer Chiefs 11/10
Golden Arrows 3/1
Kizer Chiefs are unbeaten in 2018 with a recent record of two wins and three draws. Ryan Moon scored a brilliant header last week against Wits, profiting from Siphiwe Tshabalala’s cross and that combination was the repeat of the team’s opener against Baroka. Amakhosi created chances but they ended up sharing the spoils due to poor finishing with Leonardo Castro and Siphelele Ntshangase being the main culprits.
Arrows have won only one of their last five matches, and alongside Chippa United, they have drawn the most games this season which is 11 stalemates. They lost the KZN derby 2-1 to AmaZulu last week. Get on Chiefs to win this one.
Bloemfontein Celtic 17/10
SuperSport United 33/20
This is a repeat of last week’s league encounter in which SuperSport United won 4-2 and I think Celtic did well but poor finishing and lapses in concentration cost them. SuperSport also made mistakes through Denwin Farmer and Clayton Daniels which led to both Celtic goals.
Evans Rusike found the back of the net for the visitors and Eric Tinkler says he thinks he’s found a perfect replacement for Jeremy Brockie who has joined Sundowns. However, Tinkler has made it clear that the priority is to survive relegation and he will rest nine of his regular players in this match. Celtic should win against a weakened side.
Happy Wanderers 7/2
Royal Eagles 7/10
This is a KZN derby between a struggling NFD side and a resurgent ABC Motsepe League team. Wanderers are fourth on the ABC Motsepe League KZN Stream and they are unbeaten in their last five games with three victories to their name. Royal Eagles are in danger of relegation as they’re one spot above the relegation zone. They have only won one of their last five matches. Last week, they were thumped 4-0 by table-topping Highlands Park. Put your money on Wanderers.
Wednesday 14 February
Richards Bay 7/10
Bloemfontein Young Tigers 7/2
Richards Bay who were once relegation candidates have been impressive lately and they have climbed up to 12th with 21 points in 20 games. The New Rich Boyz were held to a goalless draw by Cape Town All Stars last week. Bloemfontein Young Tigers are third on the Free State Stream of the ABC Motsepe League with only one defeat in their last three encounters. The New Rich Boyz should triumph at home.
Platinum Stars 2/1
Platinum Stars should be more worried about their log position as they remain rooted to the foot of the PSL table and winless in their last five matches. Last week, they played to a scintillating 3-3 draw with Ajax Cape Town a few days after the club confirmed its sale to coach Roger De Sa and his business partners.
Baroka have only won one of their last five matches and they will be hoping to claim bragging rights over their opponents in the trophy that helped them gain prominence way before they became a PSL side. The visiting side is better equipped to win this one.
Highlands Park 12/10
Stellenbosh managed to grind out a 1-0 victory over Uthongathi despite being reduced to 10 men. Goal scorer, Devon Saal, who is on loan from Maritzburg United, won’t be available for selection due to that red card. Stellies are now unbeaten in the last three matches.
Highlands Park are the strongest team in the NFD with their last defeat coming in gameweek four. They are 11 points clear of second-placed Tshakhuma and only a miracle can stop them from securing PSL promotion with a couple of games to spare. The Lions of the North should be too strong for the hosts.
TREBLE @ 7/1
Mamelodi Sundowns Win 7/10
Kaizer Chiefs Win 11/10
Highlands Park Win 12/10