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Upsets loom as Nedbank Cup reaches quarter-finals

Thu 12 Mar by Mark Gleeson

Preview

The field for this year’s Nedbank Cup looks decimated as the competition reaches the quarter-final stage this weekend, but there have hardly been any upsets.Instead too many of the matches pitted top-flight clubs against each other, meaning the elimination of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United.Of the top six only Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns remain with both vulnerable to an upset exit in the last eight.Wits are away against Real Kings in Durban and Sundowns play  against the mercurial Highlands Park.Real Kings are one of two second-tier teams left in the competition and both could buck the formbook.The other is TS Sporting, who host Bloemfontein Celtic in Nelspruit on Sunday.In recent years of the Nedbank Cup, most top-flight teams have found it hard to easily dispose of teams from one division below, which is in contrast to a decade or so ago when the gap between the two divisions was much more pronounced and most of the games turned out to be rather one-sided.The other cup quarter-final is in Polokwane where Baroka host Black Leopards for a second successive week, having beaten them 2-0 in league action seven days ago.Wits are likely now out of the league title race, having dropped too many points in recent games, so the cup provides them with a last opportunity to grab something concrete from an inconsistent season.Sundowns have the target of a domestic triple now in focus, having already won the Telkom Knockout in December and Wednesday’s win over Stellenbosch FC cutting into Kaizer Chiefs’ lead in the title race.But by their own admission their legs are now heavy and they are struggling with the large load they have had in recent months.Coach Pitso Mosimane said as much after watching his side labour to victory over Stellenbosch.The two matches before that against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the African Champions League have clearly taken a heavy toll. Music to Highlands Park’s ears perhaps?

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