Wits facing big test

BidVest Wits coach Roger de Sa has won the Bob Save Super Bowl — the forerunner of the Nedbank Cup — twice as a player with Moroka Swallows and on Wednesday hopes to turn the tables on his former club when they meet in the first round at Rustenburg’s Olympia Park.

Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Said De Sa: ”Swallows have a good cup pedigree and this is a tough fixture for us, but we are ready as cup competitions are a whole new ball game. I would love a good cup run to end the season on.”

But De Sa’s players face a testing seven days starting with Swallows, after which they play Kaizer Chiefs in a crunch Absa Premiership clash at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Saturday night and next Wednesday travel to KwaZulu-Natal to face relegation-haunted Maritzburg United at the Woodburn Stadium.

”It is a tough seven-day programme. All three games are important and we want to do better than we did in last year’s Nedbank Cup where we were beaten in the first round by Winners Park. As regards Chiefs and Maritzburg, we need to collect as many points as possible to stay in the top eight.

”Playing Chiefs away is never easy and with Maritzburg fighting for their PSL lives, that will not be an easy 90 minutes either. But we are focussed on beating Swallows and making sure we go into the draw for the
second round of the cup,” said Da Sa.

The two Johannesburg rivals have played twice this season. Swallows beat Wits in the Telkom Challenge while the Students defeated the Birds in the league.

Evenly matched
”We are evenly matched and I am not reading too much into the fact Swallows have lost their last three games and we have won our last two. There is no consistency in the league this season and this being a cup match, anything can happen. It is going to be a closely fought match.”

Birds captain Lefa Tsutsulupa, who will play another major role in midfield, agrees there is not likely to be more that a goal separating the sides. With the keen rivalry between the two sides over the years, fans could be treated to a penalty shootout.

But Tsutsulupa was quietly confident: ”We need to turn the corner after our slump and I believe the spirit is right and the players will go the extra mile to get into the next round of the cup and boost our chances of finishing as high as we can in the league. I have still not given up my belief we can still challenge for the league title if we put together a good run after the cup game, which I believe we will win.”

Tsutsulupa, former Wits striker David Radebe, Sandile Ndlovu and Mark Haskins are the key players for Birds.

De Sa will bank on the bustling presence of striker Dale Studzinski to unsettle the Birds defence.

Said De Sa: ”Studzinski will add muscle and strength while I am looking again to Calvin Kadi, Tebogo Langerman and Sam Ramosoeu to get behind the Birds defence.”

In the other cup matches on Wednesday, Santos host lower league minnows Milano at the Athlone Stadium and at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Peace Lovers entertain Real Madrid. All matches kick-off at 7.30pm. — Sapa

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