NFD NEDBANK CUP ROUND ONE - PREVIEW

The Nedbank Cup gets underway on Wednesday 7 February 2018. Four NFD teams will be playing against PSL opposition, 1 against a side from the ABC Motsepe League, 1 against a side from the Castle League and there is one matchup between two NFD sides.

AMAZULU FC v MTHATHA BUCKS

Amazulu and Mthatha Bucks met four times over the past two seasons, before Usuthu purchased the status of Thanda Royal Zulu and now play in the PSL. In the four meetings, three have ended in draws and there has been one victory for Bucks. In fact that was the last time the two sides met – Bucks winning 2-1 in Durban. Amazulu are in resurgent form at the moment and on an unbeaten run of 5 matches with 3 wins and 2 draws. Although there are glimpses of a return to form for Mthatha Bucks, they still sit in the relegation zone in the NFD. Neither of these sides has won the Nedbank Cup, but Amazulu have been losing finalists on 6 occasions. Last year Amazulu lost in Round 1 to Platinum Stars, while Bucks lost in the NFD qualification round.

UBUNTU CT FC v POLOKWANE CITY

The clubs met for the first time on 28 October 2006 when Ubuntu were known as Vasco da Gama and Polokwane were still Bay United. Subsequently, Vasco da Gama were renamed FC Cape Town until the end of the 2016/17 season before selling their status to the Ubuntu Trust and being renamed Ubuntu CT FC. Bay United sold their franchise to Julia Mogaladi at the end of the 2009/10 season. The club was relocated to the Limpopo province and renamed Polokwane City. The sides have met 15 times all of which were played in the NFD. Each side has won 5 matches with 5 draws being played too. This is their first meeting in the Nedbank Cup. FC Cape Town beat Polokwane City 1 – 0 in the last meeting played in the NFD in Polokwane on 21 April 2013.

CT ALL STARS v MAMELODI SUMDOWNS

Minnows versus giants is what the Nedbank Cup is all about and Friday night will be no exception at the Athlone Stadium as midtable All Stars take on the might of the Former African Champions and four times Nedbank Cup champions Mamelodi Sundowns in their first ever meeting. All Stars are lying in 10th place in the NFD, while Sundowns have been at the top of the PSL for 9 weeks this season.      

SUPER EAGLES v FREE STATE STARS

A Free State derby at Goble Park on Saturday see NFD rookies take on their high riding PSL city rivals Free State Stars for the first time in competition. All indications are towards a Free State Stars victory, with Eagles sitting 4th from bottom in the NFD, three points above the relegation zone, while their opponents are 3rd in the PSL. Playing under their former name of Qwa Qwa Stars, the Free State side lost the 1994 Bobsave Superbowl 1 – 0 to Vaal Professionals.

HAPPY WANDERERS v ROYAL EAGLES

Another first time encounter sees a KZN derby between SAB League side Wanderers and struggling NFD outfit Royal Eagles. Unconfirmed reports are that this will be the first match in charge of Eagles for former Chippa United and Thanda Royal Zulu coach Roger Sikhakane after the apparent sacking of Kosta Papic. While the match provides a great opportunity for the NFD side to progress to round two, the same applies to their hosts who will be eager to make it into the last 16.

RICHARDS BAY FC v BLOEMFONTEIN YOUNG TIGERS

Richards Bay FC will fancy their chances to make it to the next round against ABC Motsepe League Free State based BYT. Although the KZN side are only 12th on the NFD log, they have lost only one match in their last seven. However, the Free Staters can’t be taken for granted. They currently lie 3rd on the log in their region and have played in the Nedbank Cup on four previous occasions, making the quarterfinals in 2006 before losing 0 – 4 to Mamelodi Sundowns, but lost in the first round in 2007, 2008 and 2014, the last time they qualified.

STELLENBOSCH FC v HIGHLAND PARK

Two sides that have been at the top of the NFD log for a combined 19 out of the 20 weeks played, meet at the Athlone Stadium on Valentine’s Day in the only match-up between NFD sides in Round 1 of the Nedbank Cup for this season. There is no doubt that no love will be lost between these two NFD rivals. Stellenbosch has won both the two previous home meetings between the sides who will again meet in the Mother city in the final round of the NFD season. Stellenbosch FC also beat Highlands 2 – 0 in Tembisa in December 2014 in a Nedbank Cup Qualifier and lead the head to head count 4 – 2 with the sides having never played to a draw. This season Stellenbosch FC got off to a flier and led the NFD for 6 of the opening 8 weeks. They then hit a slump which saw the Cape club win only once in 11 outings. On the other hand, Highlands are unbeaten in 16 matches, have been at the top of the table for the past 13 weeks, and come off a 4 – 0 result against Royal Eagles last weekend.   

The remainder of the fixtures are as follows :

Wednesday 7 February 2018     

BIDVEST WITS vs CT CITY                                Bidvest Stadium            19h30  

Saturday 10 February 2018

SWALLOWS FC vs MARITZBURG UNITED         Dobsonville Stadium     15h30

STEENBURG UNITED vs ORBIT COLLEGE        Parow Park Stadium      15h30

PHIVA YOUNG STARS vs CHIPPA UNITED        Kabokweni Stadium       15h30

ORLANDO PIRATES vs AJAX CT                      Orlando Stadium           20h15

Sunday 11 February 2018

MARIVENI UNITED vs EC BEES                        Old Peter Mokaba         15h30

KAIZER CHIEFS vs GOLDEN ARROWS              FNB Stadium                15h30

BLOEM CELTIC vs SUPERSPORT UNITED         Dr. Molemela Stadium   15h30

Wednesday 14 February 2018

PLATINUM STARS vs BAROKA FC                    Royal Bafokeng                        19h30