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Nedbank Cup, Round of 16 Preview

Orlando Pirates boss Micho Sredojevic poses with the Nedbank cup

The Nedbank Cup returns this week with a couple of fixtures that I think are easy to call. Two of the big three teams in the shape of Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns are pitted against teams from lower divisions. Why wouldn’t you back the big guns? There’s a tricky all-PSL clash between Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City in the mix as well. Teams have all to play for knowing that the delightful potential destination could be three matches away. Here are my last 16 predictions.

Friday 9 March 

AmaZulu 4/10  
Draw 28/10 
Ubuntu Cape Town 7/1 

AmaZulu are on a three-match winless run despite their best efforts against Sundowns last Friday. Their 3-1 defeat was due to lapses in concentration and failure to covert chances. Usuthu return to the same venue on Friday evening for a Nedbank Cup fixture with eye on relegation survival. The Nedbank Cup victory over Polokwane City in the previous round gave Ubuntu Cape Town the much-needed morale boost. They have ever since moved off the bottom of the table and climbed up to 12th on the standings after going three matches unbeaten. This is likely to end in a draw.

Saturday 10 March

Baroka 1/5  
Draw 9/2 
Steenberg United 11/1 

Baroka are still unbeaten under the tutelage of caretaker coach MacDonald Makhubedu with a recent record of three draws and one win. The club has fired captain Olaleng Shaku and Puskas Award nominee, goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke and coach Kgoloko Thobejane didn’t pitch up for the disciplinary hearing. It looks like MacDonald Makhubedu will be in charge in this particular encounter as well. Steenberg are still hot in the heels of top-placed Ace FC in the Western Cape conference of the ABC Motsepe League. The visitors are four points off the pace with a game in hand. They smashed Orbit College 3-1 to reach this stage of the tournament. I’m expecting Baroka to edge this one.

Free State Stars 17/20  
Draw 22/10 
Chippa United 3/1

Free State Stars continue to exceed everyone’s expectations this season as they currently lie third on the PSL standings. Luc Eymael’s men are currently on a six-match unbeaten run in the league. Mohammed “My Wife and my Girlfriend” Anas’ late brace after he came on as a substitute sealed all three points for Ea Lla Koto against struggling Platinum Stars. For Chippa United, this will be the first match since the return of Vladislav Heric as head coach. He replaces Teboho Moloi who had failed to record a league victory in seven outings. Get on the home side to win this one.

Kaizer Chiefs 1/4  
Draw 7/2 
Stellenbosch 12/1

Kaizer Chiefs have decided to stage this one in Durban and redemption will be in their minds as they head into it on the back of a 3-1 hammering by Orlando Pirates. Amakhosi will be hoping to have George Maluleka back from injury as he sat out the Soweto derby as a precautionary measure. Stellenbosch shocked everyone when they knocked the NFD log leaders, Highlands Park, in the last 32 to reach this stage, however, they’ve been so poor in the league recently, with a recent record of three matches without a win. My money is on Amakhosi.

Sunday 11 March

Bloemfontein Celtic 4/10  
Draw 28/10  
Richards Bay 7/1

Bloemfontein Celtic finally returned to winning ways last week, beating embattled Ajax Cape Town 1-0 to snap a six-match winless run in the league. Veselin Jelusic’s men reached the Telkom Knockout final earlier on in the season and will be looking to continue their good record in cup competitions. Embattled Richards Bay recorded a shock 1-0 victory over University of Pretoria last week after going five matches without a win in the league. They drubbed lesser Bloemfontein Young Tigers 5-0 in the previous round of the current tournament. Back Celtic here.

Royal Eagles 33/10  
Draw 22/10 
Maritzburg United 8/10

Things are starting to look good for Royal Eagles since the appointment of Roger Sikhakhane as he’s unbeaten in his four matches in charge across all competitions. He boasts a record of three wins and one draw. Last week’s 2-0 victory over title-contending Tshakhuma showed how far they’ve come and the derby shall be very exciting. Maritzburg United are having one of their best seasons ever as they currently lie fourth on the PSL standings. Andrea Fileccia has been in superb scoring form with five goals over the last four games and Royal Eagles must ty to contain him. My money is on the visitors.

Tuesday 13 March

Mamelodi Sundowns 1/10 
Draw 6/1 
EC Bees 18/1 

Sundowns must be grateful that their CAF Champions League match in Rwanda takes place six days before this encounter. The Brazilians were superb against a strong AmaZulu side which they beat 3-1 in the league last week. Sibusiso Vilakazi bagged a brace at King Zwelithini Stadium. EC Bees are third on the ABC Motsepe League Eastern Cape division, and last week they played to a 1-1 draw with seventh-placed Spears FC. Bees thrashed Mariveni FC in the last 32 of this competition to progress to the round of 16. However, Mamelodi Sundowns should win easily, I’m tipping them on the (-1) handicap.

Wednesday 14 March

Cape Town City 18/10  
Draw 2/1 
Orlando Pirates 14/10 

Leading up to last week’s emphatic 2-0 victory over Chippa United, Cape Town City had endured a four-match losing streak in the league, however, The Citizens had won the three cup encounters they played during that period. Teko Modise returned to the line-up last week and produced a Man of the Match performance. The Buccaneers are the form team of the league as we speak, having won eight of their 10 matches since the turn of the year. The scintillating 3-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby last week was easy on the eye. Augustine Mulenga made his debut for the mighty Buccaneers and showed some signs of being lethal. I don’t see the hosts defying the form book, hence my decision to predict a Pirates win.

TREBLE @ 16/1
AmaZulu vs Ubuntu CT Draw 28/10
Free State Stars Win 17/20
Orlando Pirates Win 14/10

Written by Benedict Ngwenya