Two unknowns battle for final Nedbank Cup berth
Posted: 8 February 2008 Time: 14:18
The destiny of two of South African soccer’s lesser known clubs will be decided in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The final spot for the inaugural Nedbank Cup’s main draw will be contested by Gauteng’s Yebo Yes United and the newly-formed Durban central side, Hot Shots Coastal.
This match is the culmination of a two month long nationwide campaign that saw over 2 000 games take place involving 6 056 teams vying for eight lucrative places in the Premier Soccer League’s version of the FA Cup.
These teams came from Safa’s regional divisions, as well as the provincial Vodacom Second Division.
“It was a massive, yet close campaign,” remarked Zacharia Masetle, Safa’s Director of Competitions.
“The Cup Competition gave opportunities for clubs at all levels to engage each other and the teams performed very well,” added Masetle.
It’s exciting times for Nedbank with the corridors at the HQ in Sandton reverberating with excitement.
There’s less than three weeks to go for the main draw of the competition that will see the banking giant enter into its maiden sponsorship voyage in local football.
“Making a positive contribution to the development of South African sport is one of the cornerstones of Nedbank’s sponsorship philosophy,” says Greg Garden, Nedbank Group Marketing divisional director.
“The Nedbank Cup is the only competition of its kind that gives teams from lower leagues the opportunity to test their ability against the best. The experience gained through matches of this nature will go a long way towards unveiling and developing new talent,” Garden added.
Amidst all the hype, the game in Port Elizabeth on Saturday will encompass the true spirit of the Nedbank Cup.
Hot Shots Coastal, a regional qualifier from the Safa Ethikiwini regional league, will come up against a team who made the main draw at last year’s knockout cup, Yebo Yes, campaigning in the provincial Vodacom League.
Hot Shots have defied the odds against more illustrious opponents and 10 games later, they find themselves on the verge of a big pay day.
“For us it will be an honour to make it to the main draw,” said owner Lindani Shezi. “We a team from the township so it’s already a great achievement for us to make to this stage, especially considering that our average age of our squad is 19.”
The Durban side may be together for just over a year, but they already breeding some of the country’s finest young stars. Two of their players have been included in the recent national Under-17 squad – striker Sipho Setho and goalkeeper, Njambuno Mbambo.
Shezi is confident his team can upset the apple cart on Saturday.
“If our boys are disciplined we can definitely win and do ourselves proud.”
Yebo Yes must not be under-estimated though. Last year they made it to the main draw of the knockout tournament and lost 2-1 to league champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
It’s that experience that Yebo Yes team manager Johannes Khomane believes will give his team the advantage although he’s not taking Hot Shots lightly. “We under pressure going into the match because we don’t know them, but I’m hoping my team will win,” said a confident Khomane.
Yebo Yes will be relying on star striker Kyle Koerte to get them into the main draw. Koerte is the team’s leading goalscorer with 10 strikes behind his name this season.
PSL CEO Kjetil Siem is also excited by what the Nedbank Cup promises to dish up.
“Preparations for the Nedbank Cup draw are on track and for the first time in the PSL’s history the actual draw will be broadcast live to the nation at 7pm on the 25th February on SuperSport, “ said a thrilled Siem.
“ The Nedbank Cup, the FA Cup of South Africa, plans to be one of the most exciting soccer tournaments South Africa has ever seen pitting the minnow teams against the pros. Anything can happen and Nedbank is right there upfront and ready to present its first Nedbank Cup to South African soccer fans,” the Norwegian concluded.