Home Sport NEDBANK CUP: Richards Bay edge Polokwane to Nedbank Cup round of 16

NEDBANK CUP: Richards Bay edge Polokwane to Nedbank Cup round of 16

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The Natal Rich Boys booked their spot in the round of 16 of the competition and joined the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates in the next round.

Thabani Dube of Richards Bay FC challenges Douglas Mapfumo of Polokwane City during 2024 Nedbank Cup Last 32 match at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on on February 24. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Richards Bay (2) 3

Figuerado 32’ Gumede 34’ 71’

Polokwane City (1) 2

Mapfumo 29’ Matuludi 55’

RICHARDS Bay walked away the winners of a 3-2 thriller against Polokwane City in the Nedbank Cup last-32 encounter at the King Zwelithini Stadium yesterday.

The Natal Rich Boys booked their spot in the round of 16 of the competition and joined the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates in the next round.

Following a battering in the opening 29 minutes, Polokwane City broke the deadlock against the run of play to stun the hosts in the first half through Douglas Mapfumo.

That opener seemed to anger the home side as they hit back three minutes later through a set-piece in the 32nd minute.

A well-orchestrated corner routine saw Sanele Barns deliver a well-hit cross into the first post, finding Justice Figuerado, who flicked on to beat both the defenders and the goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, Richards Bay grabbed a deserved lead after an enterprising start to the game, albeit through a blunder by the visiting goalkeeper.

Flying Richards Bay winger Thulani Gumede went on one of his intricate runs before letting loose from a long way out. His powerful shot took a horrible bounce before creeping under Manuel Sapunga.

The fighting words of Richards Bay mentor Vusumuzi Vilakazi dominated the build-up to this competitive knockout tie.

The 41-year-old coach promised nothing short of fireworks and energy from his apparent ‘new-look’ Natal Rich Boys and he entrusted the expertise of ex-Rise and Shine man Khuda Muyaba upfront.

The Malawi international almost endeared himself with an immediate impact as he dispossessed his former teammates before driving towards the box to set up Sanele Barns.

However, Barns, running at full speed, could not quite set himself and his attempt was palmed behind by Sapunga in goal, signs of early trouble for the City.

The visitors arrived in Durban with a slight limp as their only Bafana Bafana representative, Oswin Appollis, missed out on the match through suspension, which saw Stevens Goovadia step in on the left wing.

The absence of Appollis seemed to affect Polokwane heavily as they created very few goal-scoring chances and perhaps were lucky to go into the break just a single goal down.

Needing to wrestle themselves back into the match, Polokwane returned from the break with renewed energy and drew level in the 55th minute.

A disappointing start to the second stanza saw a lapse in concentration which allowed Tholo Matuludi to score a well-taken goal even with defenders in his way.

This roller-coaster of an encounter continued to deliver in terms of goals as Gumede grabbed his brace in the 71st minute.

The hosts executed an impressive display of counter-pressing to win the ball back near the City goal before knitting together precise passes on their way towards the box.

Gumede was entrusted with taking the decisive shot on the right-hand side of the box and he converted confidently to give his team a 3-2 lead.

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