Safa Teams Strive for Continued Success in Nedbank Cup
There is a chance for two significant upsets in the final 32 as the first of the amateur teams in the 2023 Nedbank Cup takes the field on Wednesday.
Fourth-tier Liver Brothers visit Sekhukhune United, while third-tier Dondol Stars travel to SuperSport United, both teams hoping for an unexpected victory.
There have been instances in recent years, with an astounding four sides from South African football’s third and fourth tiers making it all the way to the round of 16 in each of the previous two Nedbank Cup competitions.
It is a joint record and demonstrates a reduction in the distance between South Africa’s top two professional divisions and amateur rankings.
Prior to now, top teams would once have believed they could defeat teams from the Safa structures. This is definitely no longer the case.
Every year the Nedbank Cup has been played, at least one amateur team has advanced to the round of 16, with the exception of 2021, when the Covid-19 outbreak caused football to be suspended at that level and no teams entered.
The same thing will happen in 2023 when Clarewood JPM, a Cape Town-based ABC Motsepe League team, will play Mpheni Home Defenders, a team from Limpopo.
In addition, FC Blackcross will host Venda Football Academy of the second division, while Mkhambathi will host Casric Stars.
While Northern Cape’s Tornado FC will travel to Durban to take on AmaZulu, Amavarara, who made an appearance at this stage three years ago, will play 2019 winners TS Galaxy.
Four teams from the Safa structures advanced past the first round the previous year.
Second-tier Summerfield Dynamos defeated Uthongathi, and 2018 winners Sinenkani FC defeated Free State Stars.
The other two third-tier teams which advanced to the round of 16 did so by defeating teams of a similar caliber: Black Eagles defeated FC Sivutsa, and Mathaithai triumphed against NC Pros on the road.
It equals the previous high of four amateur teams Hungry Lions, Happy Wanderers, Vaal University of Technology, and Amavarara advancing from the last 32 set in 2020.
Two teams have advanced in eight of the previous seasons, which is twice as many as the previous record of just one team, which occurred on four occasions.
The ABC Motsepe League’s level of players and coaches is clearly increasing and starting to catch up with the professional levels, as evidenced by the recent progress.
There have been no repeat performances while they were still amateur teams among the 24 third or fourth-tier sides that have advanced to the second round since 2008.