Three toppers’ last chance to claim a cup

A trio of top-flight clubs go in search of much-needed silverware, having made little impression elsewhere during this campaign, as they play in the Nedbank Cup semifinals on Saturday, but it is the giant killers of Ga-Mphahlele who command the focus.

Five years ago the club from just outside Polokwane were catapulted into the national spotlight with a barnstorming run to the same stage of the cup, famously knocking out Kaizer Chiefs along the way.

It is one of only three times that a club from the third tier of the domestic game has beaten a side at the highest professional level and remains the most embarrassing moment in the rich cup history of Chiefs.

Baroka have since gone on to climb up to the second tier and this season lead the national first division, on the cusp of gaining automatic promotion to the top level and mixing more regularly with the big boys.

It is not a prospect that will excite too many of them. Already this year – the only other time Baroka have actually made it through the preliminaries of the Nedbank Cup – they have taken down three clubs from the Premier Soccer League.

First it was a stunning, come-from-behind away win over Chippa United in East London, where Baroka had the temerity to rest several of their key players with an eye on their league campaign and promotion.

They have since stuck with the policy of playing some of their fringe players and an almost second-string selection beat Lamontville Golden Arrows next and then Polokwane City in a derby match in the quarterfinals.

On Saturday night, Baroka travel away yet again, this time to face SuperSport United at Atteridgeville.

Again the pace and trickery of the free-running Baroka will be a menace and, if SuperSport defend like they did in the league last weekend, then there is every chance the fairy-tale run will continue. At times, it seems as if there is little structure to the Baroka game but the absence of any discernible plan is an obvious advantage, making it hard for opponents to neutralise them. SuperSport have their own flair, notably provided by Thuso Phala and Dove Wome, but may be lopsided with muscle rather than finesse. An intriguing contest awaits.

But not before Free State Stars host Orlando Pirates at Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon in a cramped venue where no more than 5?000 spectators can congregate.

Stars sought the advantage their cosy venue gives them over the potential to make more money at the gate by moving the game to larger venue, such as Orkney – an indication of how keen they are to land a first trophy since they won the old-style Coca-Cola Cup in 1994.

That was their only previous trophy success but the club from the chilly climes of the eastern Free State have been perennial campaigners, if not so much for success but as a regular source of top-quality players for the bigger clubs in Gauteng to sign.

They started the season propping up the league table but recovered well under Ernst Middendorp before Christmas and have kicked on under the unknown Italian Gianni Solinas, working in tandem with former Bafana Bafana fullback Bradley Carnell.

Pirates have slumped in recent games after making a belated push for a top-three cup place, which has coach Eric Tinkler tearing at his short-cropped hair.

The Buccaneers want some silverware to show for a long season and in particular the place in African club competition that is granted to the winners of the previous year’s edition of the Nedbank Cup. On paper a final between Pirates and SuperSport seems most likely but Baroka and Stars will be no pushovers.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Ndabeni-Abrahams lockdown debacle: What we know

The minister has to answer to the president after a picture was posted of her apparently breaking lockdown rules

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world