Baroka on the brink of the big time, again

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

The ques­tion on ev­ery sup­porter’s mind is: How far can Baroka FC’s run go in the Ned­bank Cup?

Theirs has been a fairy tale so far, as they have knocked out three Absa Premier­ship sides.

Baroka have been the talk of the town fol­low­ing their im­pres­sive run in this year’s tour­na­ment. They have beaten Chippa United, Golden Ar­rows and Polok­wane City to reach the last four.

They face their sternest test on Satur­day, though, when they come up against a stub­born Su­perS­port United away from home.

Baroka want to go a step fur­ther by reach­ing their maiden cup fi­nal. Back in 2011, their run was ended by Black Leop­ards on penalty shoot-outs at the same stage of the same tour­na­ment.

Even then, they had caused the up­set of beat­ing Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swal­lows.

Many thought the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion (NFD) log lead­ers would be dis­tracted by their run in the league, where they are chas­ing au­to­matic pro­mo­tion to the Absa Premier­ship. But they have man­aged to equally bal­ance the two com­pe­ti­tions.

Coach Kgoloko Thobe­jane said they were us­ing one tour­na­ment to pre­pare for the other one.

He said they were more than pre­pared and he was con­fi­dent of an­other vic­tory on Satur­day.

“We will treat this game like any other game. There is no spe­cial treat­ment for Su­perS­port. Our mis­sion is still the same – to beat any side that we come up against.”

The NFD log lead­ers were three points ahead of sec­ond-placed High­lands Park be­fore yes­ter­day’s round of matches and Thobe­jane said they would not slow down in ei­ther com­pe­ti­tion.

He said his play­ers were mo­ti­vated to do well in both com­pe­ti­tions.

“We will take each game as it comes, but we al­ways play to win. It is easy like that.”

United coach Stu­art Bax­ter said they would not un­der­es­ti­mate their op­po­nents be­cause of their NFD sta­tus.

Bax­ter said Baroka would be mo­ti­vated by their pre­vi­ous re­sults against elite­league clubs.

“They are used to win­ning and this will spur them to cause an­other up­set. Their con­fi­dence is high be­cause of what they have done and they will be mo­ti­vated to go all the way to the fi­nal. But we have done our home­work and we know what to ex­pect,” said Bax­ter, who won the tour­na­ment two sea­sons ago while at Chiefs.

With the Ned­bank the only tro­phy on of­fer for United, Bax­ter said they would give it their best shot.

“This is the only tan­gi­ble tro­phy for us, and we want to reach the fi­nal and win it. Our sea­son would not be com­plete with­out a tro­phy and we will do our best to cap­ture it.”

Bax­ter first has an­other date, with an­other Lim­popo side, this af­ter­noon.

United host Polok­wane City at Lu­cas Moripe in a league game and Bax­ter could not over­stress the im­por­tance of this game.

“Ob­vi­ously our aim is to en­sure a topeight fin­ish, mean­ing we have to win our re­main­ing three games. I am happy with the progress we have made so far and we can achieve our goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the top eight.”

In an­other Ned­bank game, Or­lando Pi­rates visit un­pre­dictable Free State Stars at Goble Park on Satur­day af­ter­noon. This prom­ises to be a cracker of a game.

PHOTO: PHILIP MAETA / GALLO IM­AGES

CON­FI­DENT Kgoloko Thobe­jane says his team will con­tinue their gi­ant-killing ap­proach

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

CAU­TIOUS Stu­art Bax­ter says Su­perS­port will not un­der­es­ti­mate Baroka on Satur­day

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