Cup is proving to be a great leveller

The magic of a tournament like the Nedbank Cup is all about the opportunities it gives the lower league teams to take on the so-called giants of the Absa Premiership.

And so, with all due respect to Cavin Johnson’s AmaZulu, it was good to see Ubuntu Cape Town notch up another top-flight scalp on Friday night on their way to the quarterfinals of South Africa’s FA Cup.

It is about time, indeed, that a National First Division side went all the way to the final again, after Mpumalanga Black Aces, the University of Pretoria, and Black Leopards all made it there in three of the first four years after Nedbank took over as sponsors in 2007. Could this be the year for Casey Prince’s Ubuntu to go all the way? They have certainly shown fearless football in taking down Polokwane City and AmaZulu so far, football that belies their lowly position in the NFD.

There is another chance for an upset this evening, though that upset would be far greater than the one Ubuntu managed at a struggling AmaZulu. The ABC Motsepe League’s EC Bees are the last third-tier South African team left in the competition and now have an opportunity to take on the side currently on top of the Absa Premiership with a trip to face Mamelodi Sundowns.

The worry for EC Bees has to be that they could go the way of Powerlines, who Masandawana famously beat 24-0 in a Nedbank Cup last 32 match back in 2012.

In this week’s Phakaaathi, we hear from EC Bees coach Chippa Njedu, who certainly talks a good game. Hopefully his team can play one too, and if they do lose, lose with dignity.

In the Mother City tomorrow evening, meanwhile, Benni McCarthy has a tricky task in facing his former side Orlando Pirates, who arrive to face Cape Town City in the Nedbank Cup in sizzling form under Milutin Sredojevic’s wise hand.

Pirates have been full of goals of late, with Justin Shonga, Thembinkosi Lorch, Luvuyo Memela and Bernard Morrison all putting up some thrilling attacking performances. Then again, the Buccaneers will have to be wary of what happened on their last visit to Cape Town Stadium, when they were thumped 3-0 by Muhsin Ertugral’s Ajax Cape Town, in what was really their one dreadful performance of 2018 thus far.

We hear from Lorch on the opposite page, and he talks of the lift Pirates have got from beating Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby in their last match. City have been a bit inconsistent of late, but they certainly have the players to trouble Sredojevic’s side, and it seems to me that with this potential cracker, the sponsors and the Premier Soccer League have certainly saved the best tie until last.

Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi, meanwhile, we reveal the winner of our Player-of-the-Month competition for February, so turn to Page 10 to find out if you have won R350 in airtime by picking the right man.

We also speak to SuperSport United striker Evans Rusike, who could do with finding his shooting boots for his new side in what has become a battle against relegation. And we have the latest from the Kaizer Chiefs camp, where Steve Komphela refuses to give up on the league title.

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