Home Sport Nedbank Cup: Stellies eye trophy double with Milford their next hurdle

Nedbank Cup: Stellies eye trophy double with Milford their next hurdle

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Following Monday’s night’s Nedbank Cup last-16 draw, it will be left to Stellenbosch to check the march of lower-tier clubs like Milford in the Nedbank Cup competition.

Coach Steve Barker of Stellenbosch FC needs to prepare his team for their continued run in the Nedbank Cup, even against the minnows. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers

Herman Gibbs

Following three seasons in the top-flight league, Stellenbosch FC have been transformed into a winning machine, and after this season’s Carling Knockout Cup conquest, the Nedbank Cup is firmly in their sights.

However, before they can start believing in that idea, there is a small matter of dealing with Milford FC. This Motsepe Foundation Championship side from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, owned and coached by gynaecologist Xanti Pupuma, emerged as Kaizer Chiefs slayers after winning 5-4 on penalties on Sunday, the National First Division team from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal held the once-mighty Glamour Boys to a goalless draw after extra time.

In the resultant penalty shoot-out they left Chiefs high and dry.

Following Monday’s night’s Nedbank Cup last-16 draw, it will be left to Stellenbosch to check the march of lower-tier clubs like Milford in the Nedbank Cup competition.

Other lower-tier clubs in the next round include Maritzburg United, FC Ravens, Hungry Lions, AmaTuks and D’General FC.

The primary driving force behind the Winelands club, owned by Remgro chairperson Johann Rupert, has been Rob Benadi, the club’s CEO. Benadi admitted in an interview with Independent Media that he had not been thinking about winning the Nedbank Cup but the idea appealed to him.

“Now that would be a great story for the club, if we can pick up another trophy this season,” said Benadi. “The heartbreak of last season’s semi-final penalty shoot-out loss will galvanise us this time. Hopefully we will go all the way this time.

“We get further confidence from the fact that we know we can beat any of the 16 remaining teams in the competition.

“The great run of results we are having since last year is very pleasing, especially given the fact that we ‘lost’ starting players at the

beginning of the season (Junior Mendieta, Ibraheem Jabaar, Olwethu Makhanya and Sibusiso Mthethwa), which made many doubt our team and strategy.”

“Our club is, however, in a very healthy state from youth through to senior level, on and off the field. We look forward to a strong second half of the 2023/24 season.”

Last Friday night, Stellenbosch’s victory hopes were balanced on a knife edge after Motsepe Foundation Championship side Pretoria Callies held them to a hard-fought 1-1 draw after extra time. Stellenbosch won the resultant penalty shoot-out 4-3.

Coach Steve Barker feels now that they have reached the round of 16, they could go “all the way”.

“The most important thing is to get into the next round, because once you’re in the next round there are only 16 teams left. Then there’s no reason not to attempt to go all the way in the Nedbank Cup,” said Barker.

Barker said he has placed great emphasis on penalty-taking drills when preparing for cup matches.

“If you don’t get that second or third goal, you give the opposition hope and we gave them hope and they (Callies) took their opportunity,” said Barker. “Going to penalties is always a lottery. It can always go either way, but we’ve been working hard on our penalty shoot-outs after losing a few in the past.

“We’ve made it a point that we will be as best prepared as we can be for penalties, so went into the shoot-out with confidence. What I’m seeing about the team currently is that we are finding ways to win football matches.”

“That’s important, even if you’re not at your best like against Callies. We weren’t clinical, but we found ways to win.”

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