TS Galaxy’s incredible Nedbank Cup win
TS Galaxy did the impossible when they beat Kaizer Chiefs, becoming the only first division side to win the Nedbank Cup – here’s how it happened and where they’re headed
ONE year: that’s how long it took for TS Galaxy to do the near impossible. The team made history by becoming the first National First Division ( NFD) side to win a cup title in a 1–0, David-versusGoliath match against Kaizer Chiefs. Even more impressive is that TS Galaxy only joined the NFD a year ago.
WRITTEN IN THE STARS
Considering the team’s recent run, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to Chiefs fans when they lost their last game of the season – but it hurt that Chiefs lost against less than illustrious opponents.
The Glamour Boys finished ninth on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) log after winning just nine of 30 games this season. This is the team’s fourth year without a trophy. Meanwhile TS Galaxy players looked like seasoned pros when they walked out onto the field at Moses Mabhida Stadium. Their running and pressing game limited Chiefs’ attacking options and the TS Galaxy players dominated play throughout the 90 minutes.
Zakhele Lepasa, who is on loan from Orlando Pirates, secured and converted a penalty to win the title for TS Galaxy.
“It’s not sunk in yet,” head coach Dan Malesela tells DRUM a day after winning the biggest trophy of his career. “People are happy for us and all of that and maybe for me it will sink in later.”
Timothy Maranda, an expert on the NFD, says TS Galaxy’s achievement isn’t a surprise. “If you look at the pedigree of the coach and the quality of the players, they showed they weren’t there by fluke and anyone who undermined them was always in for a rude awakening,” he says.
In a quest for the Nedbank Cup title, TS Galaxy defeated teams such as Ajax Cape Town, Jomo Cosmos and Golden Arrows. Maranda says the players went into the clash knowing “they had nothing to lose in the final”.
ALL FOR ONE
For owner Tim Sukazi, the title isn’t just for his players but the fans and supporters too. “We haven’t run this club on personal accolades,” he says. “It’s always been a collective. We have players, supporters who are the biggest spiritual drive behind the team and we’re very happy with this achievement.”
So inspired were the players by their supporters’ backing they wore an Ndebele-inspired jersey for the final and even had Dr Esther Mahlangu attend the game as a thank you for her
“The jersey we wore was a recognition of the people of KwaNdebele who supported us since day one. We have broken records as a club because we’ve averaged 10 000 people at our home games in the NFD and this is something even PSL teams have struggled with.
“We deemed it necessary to recognise our people on this big occasion,” Sukazi says.
Along with winning the trophy and R7 million in prize money, TS Galaxy will also be playing in the CAF Confederations Cup next season but the team’s biggest priority will be to secure promotion to the Absa Premiership.
“When we got into the professional ranks our priority was to get the club into the PSL within three years. We never had a cup victory as a priority,” Sukazi admits, but he’s grateful for their success. “This is something that has catapulted us to new heights.”
Maranda warns the two competitions are going to pose a “big problem” for TS Galaxy.
“Can they juggle a competition like CAF, where they travel long distances for days at a time, along with trying to keep the core of the team? Once you’ve played so well people expect you to play in the same manner and quality week in and week out.”
For Sukazi such problems are a welcome headache. He’s “looking forward to the challenge as it’s an opportunity to exhibit the South African style of football”.
Sukazi and his management team will be working overtime in trying to ensure they keep the majority of their best players.
Striker Zakhele Lepasa, who clinched the Nedbank Cup player of the tournament award, is expected to return to Pirates after scoring nine goals for TS Galaxy since his loan move in January.
Other key players could also be recruited by teams looking to bolster their sides.
“The fear of players leaving doesn’t worry me,” Sukazi says. “All I know is TS Galaxy next season must be stronger than the TS Galaxy we saw on Saturday. It’s also not in the culture of this club to stand in players’ way and refuse them a chance to better their lives.”
DAN DANCE EFFECT
After a to-and-fro relationship with Chippa United, which saw him sacked just three games into the season in his second spel l in charge, coach Dan “Dance” Malesela ( 53) has finally settled in at TS Galaxy.
He made history in the win over Chiefs as he became the first NFD coach to win a cup title.
Malesela is humble about his success. “I’m excited this has happened because there are so many doubting Thomases in the world,” he says.
“I never wanted to prove a point. I want people to see my abilities and I’m grateful I work with people who understand I’m able to deliver certain things.”
Sukazi heaps praise on the well-liked coach. “He is a very good coach, highly talented and he’s a good reader of the game and a very wise man generally,” he says when describing the former Orlando Pirates player. Malesela believes Sukazi created an environment in which they were on the same page about where they wanted to take the club. “It has been smooth to work with him because we’re in agreement most of the time about things.” Sukazi adds that the “stable environment” has bought the best out of Malesela as a coach. “Many argued that his style of football, which requires a lot of ball possession, wouldn’t work. He has proven them wrong against the mighty Kaizer Chiefs.” He adds the coach plays the kind of football “we believe in at TS Galaxy”. Sukazi congratulates his coach for turning around their fortunes in the space of nine months. “This is all credit to him because he’s a hard worker.”
Dan Malesela won the biggest trophy of his career after leading TS Galaxy to victory in the Nedbank Cup following a 1–0 win against the formidable Kaizer Chiefs in the final.
LEFT: Sizwe Mdlinzo and club boss Tim Sukazi celebrate at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. BELOW: Striker Zakhele Lepasa secured the title for TS Galaxy in the final.