Sunday Times

Milford FC want Amakhosi’s scalp in Nedbank Cup


● Milford FC coach and owner Xanti Pupuma, a medical doctor by profession, wants his NFD side to administer a clinical performanc­e to cut Kaizer Chiefs out of the Nedbank Cup.

Milford, who are based in Richards Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal, are rookies in the Motsepe Foundation Championsh­ip after Pupuma — following years of trying to gain promotion from South Africa’s third tier league — bought Tongaat FC’s status.

Although Pupuma struggles to attend all the team’s training sessions, as he’s sometimes busy with medical work, he will today sit on the bench as head coach when his 12year-old side plays one of “our biggest matches since our inception” against Chiefs at the FNB Stadium.

“The good thing is that I don’t have to motivate my players for this match,” said Pupuma of the last-32 clash.

“It’s a match where my players have a chance to show everyone what they’re capable of. Who knows what opportunit­ies they may have after this match.”

That’s what, indeed, fast-tracked the careers of former AmaTuks players like Andile Jali, Aubrey Mngoma, Thabang Monare and Mthokozisi Yende.

The players went on to bigger clubs after they toyed with Chiefs — beating them 4-3 in the second round of the Nedbank Cup in 2009, and going all the way to the final, where they eventually lost 1-0 to Moroka Swallows.

If Pupuma’s team embarrass Amakhosi, they will be following in the footsteps of AmaTuks (2009), FC Cape Town (2010), Black Leopards (2015), TS Galaxy (2019), and Richards Bay FC (2021), the other low-tier sides (at the time) that floored Chiefs at differ- ent stages of the competitio­n.

Milford’s neighbours, Richards Bay FC, were the last low-tier side (before they gained promotion to the DStv Premiershi­p) to upset Chiefs in the last-32 of this competitio­n.

So good were some of the Richards Bay players that Chiefs went on to sign one of their defenders, Thabani Dube, who unfortunat­ely didn’t crack it at Naturena and had to return to Richards Bay this season.

“These [moves to big clubs] are some of the things that will motivate my players,” said Pupuma, whose men have collected 20 points in 19 matches to remain two points clear of the relegation zone in the first division.

“Whether we win or not, there may be one or two big clubs who would want to sign some of my players after this match. Our aim is to secure our status in the Motsepe Championsh­ip as we look to build a strong team next season. It’s not been easy for most of my players who were not used to travelling all over the country.”

Pupuma said he wanted to return to the stands and become the club’s No 1 supporter next season.

“It was not always my aim to coach the team. It was the players who forced me to take the reins full-time after I saved the club from relegation (in the third-tier league) by winning the last 10 matches.

“It is not that I can’t get the required qualificat­ions to continue to sit on the bench, but I just prefer to be a supporter of this club,” he said.

 ?? ?? Milford FC coach Dr Xanti Pupuma
Milford FC coach Dr Xanti Pupuma

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