NFD NEDBANK CUP QUALIFIERS - PREVIEW

SUPER EAGLES v BLACK LEOPARDS

The Cup of Dreams starts on Tuesday and sees a rematch of an NFD encounter on 25 November in which the visitors, Leopards, were made to sweat for their 2 – 1 win. Eventually though, goals from Musonda and Nange saw the Limpopo side though to victory. Mbuli scored the consolation goal for the home side.  Memorably while playing in the NFD in the 2010/11 season, Leopards made the final of the Nedbank Cup, losing 1 – 3 to Pirates. With the Buccaneers wining the league title as well and choosing to play in the CAF Champions League, Leopards contested the CAF Confederations Cup in 2012. The Limpopo side acquitted themselves well to beat Motor Action (Zim), St Eloi Lupopo (DRC) and Warri Wolves (Nig), before losing in the Champions League losers group to Sudanese giants and semifinalists El Merreikh. Last season Leopards lost 3 – 4 to FC Cape Town at this stage of the competition.

STELLENBOSCH FC v MBOMBELA UNITED FC

Two meetings between the two sides in a matter of 3 days and after their goalless draw on Saturday, both sides will fancy their chance of progressing to the Nedbank Cup 1st Round draw. The sides are separated by 1 point and 1 place on the log with the Mpumalanga visitors in 4th position. Last season both sides won their preliminary match with Stellenbosch beating Thanda 1 – 0, while Mbombela saw off Real Kings 2 – 1 at home. These two teams have met twice before in the Nedbank Cup with the then Vasco da Gama beating Mbombela 4 – 1 away from home in Round 1 in the 2012/13 campaign while the Mpumalanga side returned the favour 3 – 2 in Cape Town three years later. Vasco’s best effort in the Nedbank Cup was a semifinal loss to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2015, while Mbombela have never been past the second round of the competition.

JOMO COSMOS v UBUNTU CT FC

2nd from top in the NFD plays 2nd from bottom on the log. But that’s where it stops really. The Nedbank Cup is known for its upsets and after playing to a 1 – 1 draw in Cape Town on 23 September Ubuntu might fancy their chances of an upset. However to advance to the tournament proper the Cape side have the unenviable task of ending Cosmos’s unbeaten home record. The last time these two teams met in the Nedbank Cup was in the preliminary round in 2012 when Ubuntu were known as FC Cape Town. Cosmos won 3 – 2 at home.

WITBANK SPURS v RICHARDS BAY FC

Richards Bay FC will want to turn their season around and perhaps will use the Nedbank Cup to relaunch what has been a disaster of a season so far. Dumped to the bottom of the table after their loss to NFD rookies Super Eagles on Saturday, the only way now is up for the KZN side. Spurs are unbeaten in 7 outings, but the last 5 have been draws. Spurs have lost twice in the round of 16 of the Nedbank Cup, while Richards Bay lost in the quarterfinals against Santos in the 2006/07competition when the club was still known as Benoni Premier United. The two teams have never met in the Nedbank Cup.

CT ALL STARS v TSHAKHUMA TSHA MADZIHANDILA

Two teams looking to get back to winning ways meet on Wednesday in the Cup of Dreams. All Stars lost at home to Tuks, while TTM FC were humbled 5 – 1 away to Real Kings in Round 14 of the NFD season. All Stars have never been past Round 1 of the Nedbank Cup, while TTM FC as Milano United FC lost in the Round of 16 in the 2013/14 competition. The two teams have never met in the Nedbank Cup but did meet in the NFD in Round 1 where All Stars beat TTM FC 1 – 0 in Thohoyandou.

MTHATHA BUCKS v UTHONGATHI FC

13th on the log and without a win their last 6 matches, Mthatha Bucks need a kickstart to rejuvenate what has been a miserable season so far. Duncan Lechesa has been appointed coach of the Eastern Cape side recently too. The Eastern Cape side will take some confidence in the fact that they beat the ABC Motsepe League champions Uthongathi 2 – 1 in KZN in Round 5 of the NFD campaign. Mthatha Bucks have never made it into the first round proper of the Nedbank Cup. The KZN side will look to spring a surprise as they are unbeaten in 3 starts, but they are yet to win on the road this season.

ROYAL EAGLES v UNIVERSITY of PRETORIA

With coach Kostadin Papic making a return to the Harry Gwala Stadium, hopes are that the fortunes of 3rd from bottom Royal Eagles will change for the better. Easier said than done when hosting 3rd placed Tuks on Wednesday, but surprises are what the Nedbank Cup can produce. While the home side have never been past the first round of the competition, Tuks did beat Blackburn Rovers, Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic and Ajax CT in the 2008/09 competition before losing 0 – 1 in the final to Moroka Swallows. Tuks beat Royal Eagles 2 – 1 in Round 4 of the current NFD season in Pretoria.

HIGHLANDS PARK v REAL KINGS

Logleaders Highlands Park have put themselves into a really strong position at the top of the NFD standings where they will see the halfway mark as 8 times No.1 side this season. The Lions of the North are flourishing under coach Owen da Gama and are unbeaten in 9 outings. Both sides come off victories in Round 14 of the NFD season with Highlands winning  3 – 1 away in Mthatha, while Kings demolished TTM FC 5 – 1 on Saturday. The two teams met for the first time ever in Round 7 of the current season, playing to a 1 – 1 draw in KZN. Neither side have been beyond Round 1 of the Nedbank Cup.