What the Nedbank Cup would mean to Pirates and Sekhukhune

25 May 2023

What the Nedbank Cup would mean to Pirates and Sekhukhune

The Nedbank Cup is a knockout competition that’s most suited to success stories along with fairytale wins and we’re all set for more drama in this Saturday’s final.

Before Orlando Pirates take on Sekhukhune United at Loftus Versfeld (live on Showmax Pro), here’s a look at what victory would mean for either team.

Pirates out to end their Nedbank Cup drought

For one of the biggest and most successful clubs in South Africa, it’s been a long time since Orlando Pirates have tasted Nedbank Cup success.

2014 was the last time they won it with a 3-1 win in the final against Bidvest Wits at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Kermit Erasmus scored a brace that day before taking a career path to Europe and back where he played for six different clubs. Now he’s returned and could help the club to silverware once again.

Since that victory nine years ago, they’ve reached two Nedbank Cup finals and lost them both (in back-to-back years against SuperSport United). The current Pirates group will feel like this is their time.

A chance for another first-time winner

The Nedbank Cup is a tournament that’s set up to accommodate giant-killings and in the last five years, there have been plenty of fairytale finals.

TS Galaxy’s success in 2019 was the most memorable when they were a second-tier outfit that went on the beat Kaizer Chiefs. Free State Stars won their only PSL trophy in 2018 a season before getting relegated. TTM were unlikely winners in 2021. Marumo Gallants were surprise finalists in 2022.

As a club that have just finished in the top eight, Sekhukhune shouldn’t be taken lightly and are more than just plucky underdogs. While a win for them might not be as surprising a result as some of the finals mentioned above, it would represent a remarkably quick rise as a club that have only spent two seasons in the DStv Premiership.

A debut double for Riveiro?

Since their last Nedbank Cup win, Orlando Pirates have only won two other major tournaments.

Both of those triumphs came in the MTN 8. Once was in 2020 under Josef Zinnbauer. The other was under Jose Riveiro earlier this season.

Where Riveiro can usurp his predecessor is by achieving a double in his first season as a PSL coach.

There is always pressure when someone becomes the Orlando Pirates coach and this is magnified when it’s a European coach, but a debut double will do wonders for the Spaniard to silence any pre-season doubts.

Are Sekhukhune a bogey team for the Buccaneers?

While Pirates will have their tails up on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run, there will be some trepidation regarding their opponents considering how they fared in their meetings earlier this season.

Pirates failed to beat Sekhukhune in both their league meetings this season. Away from home, they lost 2-0 courtesy of goals from Elias Mokwana and Vusimuzi Mncube. At home, they had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Edwin Gyimah’s header cancelled out Terrence Dzvukumanja’s opener.

In fact, Sekhukhune are the only DStv Premiership that Pirates have failed to beat this season. While there’s no doubt that they will be the favourites, could it be that their opposition’s method and style has the better of them?

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