Rockets gearing up for another deep Cup run
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.