Brand new winners to lift the Cup of dreams
DESTINY awaits either Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila or Chippa United at the Free State Stadium this evening – as one of the two teams will be crowned Nedbank Cup champions for their first time in their existence.
Both teams will not leave anything to chance though. That's why the duels between Thabo Mnyamane against Frederic Nsabiyumva, Miguel Timm against Sizwe Mdlinzo and Alfred Ndengane against Augustine Kwem could be key to the outcome.
MNYAMANE (TTM) V NSABIYUMVA (CHIPPA)
After being released by Supersport United at the end of the season, it was hard to imagine where Mnyamane would end up after struggling with injuries. But Tshakhuma, the new kids on the block, took a gamble on the 28-year-old when they bolstered their squad.
An injury-free Mnyamane has repaid the faith scoring four goals and registering four assists in 17 appearances in all competitions. Most of his goals have come from set-pieces, which have been his speciality over the years.
Mnyamane's deft touches upfront might also help Tshakhuma in their bid to avoid the crop. And having won the Nedbank Cup and MTN8 with Supersport, he’ll be one of the senior players who will hold the hands of the newbies in Bloemfontein.
Mnyamane may not be the quickest of players, but expect Nsabiyumva to watch him like a walk. The Burundian defender has been an integral figure for the Chilli Boys in the last few seasons – his workrate has been rewarded with the armband.
Nsabiyumva is a good reader of the game and hardly puts a foot wrong during a tackle. His height has also helped him to win almost all the aerial duels in Chippa's final third. And that’s why he’ll be hoping to hoist the club’s first ever crown in the top-flight.
TIMM (TTM) V MDLINZO (CHIPPA)
Maritzburg United's decision to let go of Timm after his contract ended last season made no sense.
The 29-year-old was the heartbeat of the Team of Choice's team alongside Keagan Buchanan whose contract was also terminated by the club earlier this year.
At Tshakhuma, Timm hasn’t dropped his head. Instead, he remained the composed engine room operator who has made the team tick going forward and defensively. His display has seen him receive praises from pundits who reckon that he might move to another club before the start of the new season.
The Durban-born footballer has to ensure he wins the duels in the midfielder, especially against Mdlinzo. The Chippa ace is also silk on the ball like Timm, except that he doesn’t shy away from going all out during hardcore tackles.
Mdlinzo has advantage on his side as he’ll be making his second appearance in the Nedbank Cup final in just three years. He was part of the TS Galaxy side which won the crown after beating the ailing Kaizer Chiefs in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
NDENGANE (TTM) V KWEM (CHIPPA)
After falling down the pecking order at Orlando Pirates, following the arrival of Thulani Hlatshwayo, Ndengane needed a new challenge. Tshakhuma adding him to their newly revamped squad ahead of the season.
Ndengane has had a rollercoaster season at TTM. He received a red card against Kaizer Chiefs when his side was hammered 3-0. But since then, he’s dusted himself off, winning a couple of Man of the Match accolades along the way, including the Nedbank Cup.
His physical prowess and defensive abilities will be put to the test against an equally bulky-shaped Kwem. Ndengane is not the quickest of defenders but he can play players off the park as long as he sticks to the defensive basis, including keeping his eyes on the ball.
Kwem has been an integral figure for Chippa since joining the side two seasons ago. He can easily hold up play for his fellow striking contingent, while his pace and good positioning has seen him score some crucial goals for the side over the years.
He’ll know that in order to increase his chances of breaking into the Nigerian senior national team – the Super Eagles – ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals next year, he has to win on all fronts: saving Chippa from relegation and winning the Nedbank Cup.