The Team of Choice take on National First Division (NFD) club Witbank Spurs in a last 32 encounter at the Puma Rugby Stadium on Sunday afternoon (3pm).
Spurs may be languishing third from bottom on the NFD table, but since the recent arrival of former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, the Mpumalanga club have shown a resurgence of form and have won their last two matches, including a 4-1 victory over Real Kings last weekend.
The likes of Zimbabwe-born twins Patrick and Peter Mubayiwa have been with the team for years and will provide plenty of experience, while up front, Joshua Sauls is a proven goal-scorer. In defence, Vukile Mngqibisa is another experienced campaigner who has played in the PSL.
The NFD side, who beat Uthongathi in a play-off to make the Nedbank Cup last 32, have never gone past the last 16 of this competition.
All that aside, as a lower league team, Spurs will be gunning for an upset against Maritzburg and will be fired up in front of their home fans.
Maritzburg’s most recent appearance in the Nedbank Cup was of course in last season’s final, when they were edged out 0-1 by Free State Stars.
While last year’s run in the competition could be cause for confidence and optimism, it will also count for nothing up in Mpumalanga, as Team of Choice goalkeeper Richard Ofori points out. Ofori also downplayed suggestions that the KwaZulu-Natal capital club might not take the Cup as seriously as they do the league.
“You can’t just think because you have played in a final before, everything will go your way. So we are starting a new Nedbank Cup campaign, we need to be focussed and give it our best,” said the Ghana international.
“Each and every game is important, for the club, for the fans. We always play for the club crest, so every game is important. In our situation, we need to take every game seriously, because if we get a good result in the cup, it can boost our confidence for the league.”