The Nedbank Cup returns to action this weekend as 16 teams battle to stay in the competition.
On Friday, TTM knocked out Swallows FC, while Cape Town All Stars also knocked Cape Town Spurs – both via penalty shootouts. Ten of the last 12 teams face off on Saturday and Sunday, with Mamelodi Sundowns v Polokwane City tie postponed to mid March.
Maritzburg v Orlando Pirates
Orlando Pirates travel to KZN to face MaritzburgUnited on Saturday in the Nedbank Cup Round of 16. The recently crowned MTN8 winners have fallen off the pace somewhat in the title race, and are currently seven points behind log leaders Sundowns in the league, having played two games more.
As another year without a league title beckons, the knockout competitions may prove to be the redemption for The Buccaneers. Josef Zinnbauer’s men had a perfect run in the MTN8 this season, winning all four games en route to that title, including a 5-0 drubbing of Chiefs over two legs. The MTN trophy brought an end to what had been a six year trophy drought:
2014 – The last trophy Pirates won before this season’s MTN8 was the 2014 Nedbank Cup.
Since that victory, Pirates have been knocked out in the Last 16, Final, Final, Last 16, Last 32, Last 32 of the competition in subsequent years. They lost in the final in 2015/16 and 2016/17, creating an unwanted reputation of losing at the final hurdle.
In the last two seasons, they have failed to get to the Last 16 stage. Even Maritzburg (2018) have reached a Nedbank Cup final more recently than Pirates. And now, the same Maritzburg that stands in the way between them and the quarter-finals.
Pirates will look to recent history for motivation, knowing that Maritzburg have beaten them only once in the last 13 games the sides have played – Pirates won six, while six matches ended in a draw. However, Maritzburg cannot be taken lightly, especially when you consider who is in their dugout.
9 – Ernst Middendorp has won nine matches against Orlando Pirates in his PSL coaching career – against no other side has he won more (v Celtic and Arrows also 9).
The German lost to his counterpart in the last encounter between the sides, however, as Pirates won 1-0 in January’s league fixture thanks to Deon Hotto’s first half goal. Hotto has been key for Pirates all season, and may be the man Matitzburg have to stop if they want to progress:
10 – Deon Hotto (4 goals & 6 assists) is the first Orlando Pirates player to be involved in ten goals in domestic competitions this season.
By Opta Jabu