Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs are standing in the way of a KZN TKO derby.
STEVE KOMPHELA and Eric Tinkler could well use the story of Nelson Mandela to motivate their teams ahead of their Telkom Knockout semi-finals against opposition likely to be declared by just about everyone as favourites.
The Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United coaches will lead their teams against Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs respectively this weekend looking to end a provincial trophy drought that is as long as the number of years the revered former South African president spent in jail.
Yes, it has been 27 years since a club from KwaZulu-Natal last won the country’s ‘League Cup’ – the knockout competition contested only by the elite league clubs.
In 1992 AmaZulu beat Chiefs 3-1 to win the competition known then as the Coca-Cola Cup. Success has not happened since then, at least not in this competition, as Arrows did win the MTN8.
As they go into this weekend’s matches, Komphela and Tinkler will be carrying with them the hope of a province and the duo need not look any further than the Madiba story to inspire their teams.
Arrows have proven to be tough customers to beat in their own territory this season. They are unbeaten at home across all the competitions.
Abafana Bes’thende will be out to make it a double over the defending league champions when they meet on Saturday at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium at 3pm. They recently got the big scalp of Sundowns in the league, emerging as 3-2 winners.
Arrows are two games away from ending their 10-year trophy drought. The last time Arrows won a cup was in 2009 when they lifted the MTN8 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
This time they have an opportunity to lift the trophy at home. If Arrows dump Sundowns out of the competition they have a chance to set up a KZN derby in the final with Maritzburg.
The Team of Choice have an affair with Amakhosi. The team from KZN’s capital has been in a rich vein of form. They are undefeated in the past seven games across all competitions. They will be out to keep that record intact.
It won’t be easy though against the resurgent Chiefs side that is in red hot form when the two sides will meet at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday at 3pm.
Maritzburg will be eyeing a second finals berth, having lost their maiden appearance in a final against Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup in Cape Town two seasons ago.
Maritzburg and Arrows are carrying all the hopes of the soccer-loving people in KZN. They have an opportunity to do it at home. It will be a special moment for a province that has produced so many talented footballers but has nothing to show for it.