Rock­ets gear­ing up for an­other deep Cup run

The Citizen (KZN) - - The Backpage - Jonty Mark

TS Gal­axy’s pri­or­ity may well be to make it into the Absa Premier­ship, but with that al­most cer­tain not to hap­pen this sea­son, The Rock­ets can in­crease their fo­cus on an­other ex­tra­or­di­nary run in the Ned­bank Cup.

Gal­axy’s in­cred­i­ble win over Kaizer Chiefs in the fi­nal of the 2018/19 Ned­bank Cup made them the first side ever out­side the top divi­sion to win the coun­try’s most pres­ti­gious knock­out com­pe­ti­tion. And Dan Male­sela’s (right) side will kick off the last 32 of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion when they travel to face the Absa Premier­ship’s Chippa United, an­other side cur­rently strug­gling for form.

Gal­axy have picked up just two points from their last five games in the GladAfrica Cham­pi­onship, have won four league games all sea­son, and are cur­rently some 14 points be­hind sec­ond-placed Uthon­gathi FC. Yet even last sea­son, Gal­axy man­aged to lift the Ned­bank Cup de­spite not chal­leng­ing for pro­mo­tion, tak­ing down Golden Ar­rows in the semi­fi­nals be­fore em­bar­rass­ing Amakhosi.

And there is al­ready an omen in Gal­axy’s progress in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, in that they beat Cape Umoya United in qual­i­fy­ing for the Last 32, a team they also beat in the quar­ter­fi­nals of last year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Male­sela should also know plenty about Chippa United, a club he has coached on more than one oc­ca­sion, and a club stum­bling again of late. Nor­man Mapeza seemed to have the Chilli Boys back on track with a run of five wins in seven games in Novem­ber, De­cem­ber and early Jan­uary, but the team have now gone four matches with­out a win, pick­ing up just two points.

In their de­fence, de­feats in their last two games have come against Su­perS­port United and Or­lando Pi­rates, sides Chippa would not or­di­nar­ily ex­pect to beat. Gal­axy are a dif­fer­ent story, how­ever, and given Chippa Mpen­gesi’s no­to­ri­ously itchy trig­ger-fin­ger, the pres­sure is likely to in­ten­sify on Mapeza if Gal­axy can spring an­other cup sur­prise.

On the other hand, Chippa could be for­given for pri­ori­tis­ing avoid­ing rel­e­ga­tion – they are cur­rently only two points above the drop zone.

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