Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane knows all about the potential perils of facing lower division opponents in a Nedbank Cup Round of 16 tie. Back in 2005-06, he was part of a Chiefs team that were taken to extra time by City Pillars In a game that produced 9 goals, eventually won 5-4 by Chiefs. Zwane was cautioned in a very physical clash on a chilly Saturday evening on 25 March 2006. He will use all of his experience to ensure that Amakhosi don’t take their Nedbank Cup Round of 16 opponents, Casric Stars, lightly.
Chiefs will host the team lying third in the Motsepe Foundation League at the FNB Stadium on Sunday evening. Amakhosi, going in search of their 14th Nedbank Cup crown, began the tournament with a 2-0 win against Maritzburg in the round of 32. Chiefs head into this game on the back of a 1-0 win over Richards Bay in their last league game and have made it to the round of 16 for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign, exiting at the last 32 stage in the past two years.
Amakhosi’s last round of 16 clash saw them go down on penalties to Highlands Park in 2019-20. Overall, since 1996-97, Chiefs will be competing in the round of 16 for a 22nd time and will be targeting a 12th Quarterfinal appearance, and first since 2018-19. Since the inauguration of the PSL in 1996-97, Chiefs have faced teams from outside of the topflight eight times at this stage of the Nedbank Cup, winning five of these games and losing three times.
For Amakhosi, the road to a 20th Nedbank Cup Final pits them next against Casric Stars, a team who currently sit third in the second tier, and are 13 games undefeated in the league, Stars defeated ABC Motsepe League team Mkhambathi from the third tier of South African league structure 4-0 in the previous round to reach this stage of the competition.
There are links between Chiefs and their opponents this weekend, with former Chiefs youth development head now the technical director of Casric Stars, while Chiefs academy graduate Keletso Sifama is currently on loan at Stars as well as Sibusiso Milazi and Khotso Malope
At this stage of the tournament Chiefs’ two biggest wins have been 4-0 triumphs over Wits in 2010-11 and Black Leopards in 2011-12, the latter a game in which Lehlohonolo Majoro scored four goals as Chiefs marched into the last eight. Arthur Zwane will be hoping for the same kind of clinical finishing displayed by Chiefs in those two games and will be looking for his front men to ease the pressure with early goals.
For Chiefs though, the main objective will be to keep focus and target a spot amongst the teams in Monday’s draw for the last eight. Zwane will be emphasising to his team the need to stay the course and not be distracted by talk of potential quarterfinal opponents. Instead, it will be all about getting the job done on Sunday and moving onto the next round. With a number of giant-killing acts having already happened in this season’s Nedbank Cup, Chiefs will be determined to avoid that fate.