For the love of the beautiful game

Bringing people together on dusty grounds and cement pavilions to hosting over 40 000 people at Orlando Stadium, the timeless tradition of soccer becomes more than a game but a way of life not only for players but for supporters too.

Alone black and yellow soccer jersey hangs on the laundry line, giving an indication this is the correct address. A man walks out of the house with a smile on his face and reaches out with a firm handshake. Sipho Nkosi, ‘Mr S’, is preparing to watch a soccer match with his brother and friends the following day.

“Tomorrow is a long day,” he says as he walked back into his house to collect a copy of the soccer newspaper, Soccer Laduma. “Look! There are five matches tomorrow. From half past three, I will be watching soccer. I am just getting my kit ready,” says the 31-year-old.

This Friday afternoon, October 27, in Orlando East is filled with people scurrying around Rathebe Street. The sense of community is amplified by greetings from both sides of the road as the ‘gents’ salute each other with handshakes and slang greetings. “Verder?” (How are you?) is constantly repeated as you walk down from JB’s liquor store.

Vegetable stalls, spaza shops and yard sales are not the only hype of the street on a Friday afternoon in the streets of Orlando. Worn with pride, soccer jerseys in all forms and colours are paraded on either side of the road. Black and white for Orlando Pirates here, Kaizer Chiefs supporters in yellow and black there, some faded and others crisply new.

Further down the road, where Herby Mdingi and Rathebe streets intersect, on the sidewalk of house number 826 sit two men on black and white wooden benches, which have been embellished with a neatly-erected wooden structure. A few steps away from the sitting area is a table with assorted sweets and cigarettes for sale. Next to the stall is a tall white board with black writing: “Orlando Park… The Happy-Peoples, 826”, flanked on either side, by an Orlando Pirates football club skull emblem.

Orlando Pirates supporter, Ace Mokoena, whiles away a Sunday afternoon in the park dedicated to his favourite football club.

Orlando Park was curated by 59-year-old Lazarus Mthe in 2016, in honour of Orlando Pirates Football Club, established in Orlando in 1937.

Offered a yellow vuvuzela by his brother, Ace Mokoena, who lives in the same yard, Mthe refuses to blow it saying he cannot be seen holding a Kaizer Chiefs vuvuzela.

Speaking in Zulu, Mthe describes his passion for Orlando Pirates as a young boy with a smile on his face. “Ngiyithanda ngenhliziyo yami yonke, (I love it [the team] with my whole heart),” he says bringing his hands closer to his heart. Mthe describes how he fell in love with soccer in the 1960s as a hobby that he was introduced to at Orlando High School when playing with friends during break times and after school matches in the streets of his hometown.

The park’s wooden structure which still needs restructuring, and another coat of paint to make it look “more attractive”, according to Mthe, is accessible not only to the community but anyone who wants to take a seat in the Orlando Pirates haven. “I made this for the people, especially for gogos who walk to and from the clinic. They can sit here and rest. People love sitting here. Pirates played at the stadium a few weeks ago and people from Vereeniging parked here and took photos and I told them it was sharp,” he says.

Mthe and Mokoena not only share a passion for soccer, but support Orlando Pirates religiously as a family. House 826 in Herbi Mringa Street is a compound filled with friendly and welcoming faces. In the yard stands a pink house, next to which are neatly corrugated shacks. Mokoena’s and Mthe’s shacks can be identified by the colours and “Up the Bucs” painted on the sides of their respective structures.

Mokoena recalls the last Orlando Pirates versus Kaizer Chiefs game he watched at Orlando Stadium a year ago, from the atmosphere before the game to how he felt afterwards. “Eish, that game! I have never experienced anything like that before in my life. It was packed outside. There was black and white everywhere,” he says, with an overjoyed smile on his face.

Before going to watch a game, Mokoena prepares by gathering his regalia. Shaking his body, he describes how he wakes up with the “spirit” for the game. “By the time I leave for the stadium, I am telling you, you will cry. I look good,” he adds.

Building the Pirates Park was an idea supported by Mokoena from the moment he knew that the park was dedicated to Orlando Pirates.

“My brother put everything together bit by bit. He got some stuff from people in the community and made it happen. When I saw them working with the paint and I saw that it was black and white, I was very happy. But what makes me unhappy is that people come at night and damage what he has made, as you can see it is open to the public and that is not nice. Yes it is attractive, but not like before because people damaged it,” says Mokoena.

A family tradition preserved for future generations

Julius Sono keeps the Sono home well maintained with hopes that it will be declared as a heritage site in memory of his father, Eric “Scarra” Sono.

Just two blocks away from the Pirates Park is a house with “SONO” written boldly on golden plates on the face brick wall. On the window facing the street is the reflection of a faded Orlando Pirates flag.

“Ekse bra KK” shouts a man walking past, avoiding stepping on the lawn as the son of soccer legend Eric ‘Scara’ Sono drills more golden plated letters onto the brick wall.

Eric ‘Scara’ Sono captained Orlando Pirates in 1957 and used football as a way of disrupting the apartheid system by bringing multiracial players to join Orlando Pirates despite segregation laws.

According to the official Orlando Pirates history, players Bernard ‘Dancing Shoes’ Hartze and Mannie ‘Al die Hoekies’ Davids were some of the players that Sono was instrumental in bringing to Orlando Pirates.

The left-footed soccer player died in a car accident in 1964 leaving a legacy of soccer through his family.

His sons, Jomo “Black Prince” Sono and Julius “KK” Sono, continued the family tradition of soccer.

The Sono home has been transformed and is managed by Julius as a business park that seeks to uplift and enable soccer talent within the Orlando community.

“I am following the tradition of my family of dealing and growing the community through the religion of soccer,” he says.

Affectionately known in the community as “KK”, Julius joined Orlando Pirates in the 1980s where he continued to play for five years.

He wears the Orlando Pirates jersey with pride as he walks around the home mowing the lawn and making sure that the Sono name stands firmly on the wall.

IN ACTION: Julius “KK” Sono playing for Orlando Pirates in 1980.

From his room, Sono brings out a collection of black and white photocopies of his family’s history in soccer. “Soccer was very political at the time my father was playing. I don’t remember much, but he had many friends of different races and the authorities did not like it,” he says.

The official Orlando Pirates history says that, “During apartheid, the black majority were withheld from public gatherings in fear of political discussions. Church and soccer were the only way to get together.”

Articles dated between 1963 and 1980 tell a story on their own, mixed with black and white photographs, spread on the glass table in the Sono living room as “KK” describes how fans adored his skills on the field.

“The supporters loved me,” says the 53-year-old. “They used to shout at the coach to put me on the field. I was dangerous because I played with feeling,” he adds, as he points at a picture of himself scoring a goal when he played for his brother’s soccer club, Jomo Cosmos in 1986.

Born and bred in Orlando East, self-employed soccer enthusiast Sizwe Nkosi sells clothes to support his wife and three-year-old son. Nkosi grew up playing township soccer before playing for the under-19 Orlando Pirates team. He recalls how on his wedding day one of his guests made a joke about how he joined the team. “The speaker told the people at my wedding that he met me at Pirates. He told everyone about how they bought me for R250 and they laughed,” he says, laughing.

Nkosi says that he played with Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune when he was younger, but people always question the truth of this because of his age. He stopped playing soccer professionally when his parents refused for him to lie about his age. “My wife did not believe me when I told her. I showed her some pictures but she still doubted. We bumped into Khune at the mall and we spoke, I could see she believed me then,” he says.

Turning his passion for soccer into fandom has given Nkosi the freedom to mentor, coach and host celebratory gatherings at his home. “You know, when you run away from a thing and it follows you, I don’t know if it is passion or what. I still play indoors and train some guys from here,” Nkosi says, as he explains how soccer remains close to his heart.

Nkosi’s contact list has a couple of popular soccer players. During the interview he received several phone calls from local football stars. Apologetically he says, “Everything is soccer. Sometimes I go to the grounds to watch soccer, but I always find myself analysing the game. If I feel that the coach must put a player in, I go behind the bench and I call the coach.”

Nkosi believes that “spirit” from both the players and supporters makes an enjoyable match. He keeps this spirit alive by hosting people at his home for post-match braais. “When I coached a team, and we were leading two nil, I called my wife and told her to take R2000 from my money for meat at the butchery. She told my brother to make the fire. We came back to my house to chill and celebrate after we won the game,” he says.

STAY GROUNDED: Soccer helps to keep children in the Orlando East community off the streets and out of trouble.

The soccer player at heart remains nostalgic for the days when Jomo Somo entertained supporters with “tricks” on the field. “If you watch the old DVDs of Jomo Sono, you’ll see a big difference. There was no money then, but people enjoyed football and the rules. Jomo used to stand on the ball but if a player was to do it now it is a yellow card,” he says.

For Nkosi, local soccer traditions have changed drastically because of the continuous upgrades of soccer rules set by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the international governing body of football.

He adds that he does not have anything against international football, but wants the township culture of soccer, particularly in Orlando to be upheld because it is what the fans want and enjoy. “Skill. Our strength is in the skill. Our players are creative. When a team is good with skills, you can tell by the supporters. Orlando stadium used to be full because Jomo Sono was doing his thing. People came because they wanted to see the skill,” Nkosi says.

Despite the ever-changing rules of football locally and internationally, die-hard fans like Nkosi still flock in numbers to watch their favourite players battle to win the hearts of the supporters. “All people want to do is enjoy the game. If you tell someone Soweto All Stars is playing at four o’clock, the grounds will be full because people know which players are going to play flair and freestyle,” he says.

With hopes to carry the tradition over to his four-year-old son, Nkosi is already grooming him. “I want my boy to play soccer. I guide him. I want him to start at an early age, even now I started telling him not to hold the ball in his hands. I won’t force him to play if he does not want to, but it would make me happy,” he says.

WATER IS LIFE: Orlando Sweepers Football Club players quench their thirst after an intense training session.

From giving up your yard in the name of fandom, to opening your home to celebrate with the community and preserve family tradition, soccer in Orlando East goes beyond the 90 minutes on the soccer field for enthusiasts.

As it remains a religion in Orlando, the loyal supporters make sacrifices by coming together to share the joy whether it is through providing space for rest after a long walk from the clinic, or an internet café to apply for a job, or just a braai after a soccer match.

Giving up something for the love of the game does not take away from supporters, but makes them feel like they belong to a team long after the 90-minute whistle at the end of the match.

FEATURED IMAGE: A football match between two clubs. Photo: Files.

RELATED STORIES:

Pirates sink Bidvest Wits’ hopes of glory

Bidvest Wits went into the second leg of their match against Orlando Pirates with 2 goals already against them. Last night, Pirates put on a top-class performance at Orlando Stadium to move into the MTN 8 final with another 3 goals against the Clever Boys. The match finished 3-1.

Wits failed to stop the Buccaneers from reaching a fifth consecutive final and four MTN 8 final appearances in the last five years.

The Clever Boys came with intention to attack judging from their starting line up that included Sithembiso Ngcobo playing in the first half with hope to net one early in the first half.

Indeed in the first half, The Clever Boys showed consistency in pilling on the pressure from the start, leading with good ball possession and forcing Pirates back into their own half.

Bidvest Wits early goal attempt in the 3rd minute failed to put the team ahead when Vincent Pule’s shot went over the bar.

Ngcobo could have also have had a goal to his name if it wasn’t for a defence tackle from Happy Jele which saw Ngcobo’s attempt, combined with Toriq Losper’s pass go wide off.

Enjoying a sustained period of ball dominance, Bidvest Wits’ third chance came from defender Buhle Mkhwanazi, who out-ruled Siyabonga Sangweni in the 11th minute to steer his header that went wide of the mark from close range.

Pirates’ goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa had no trouble deflecting Bidvest Wits’ ambitious attempts when he saved Bidvest Wits’ captain, Sibusiso Vilakazi’ shot in the 30th minute.

Pirates started gaining momentum towards the end of the first half, with Erasmus, who often found himself off-side, breaking through Bidvest Wits’ backline with tremendous pace, only to have his efforts halted.

The second half kicked off with both teams’ score sheet still empty, putting more pressure on the Wits side as time was running out and still no early goal from Wits.

Wits nearly scored a minute after halftime when Ngcobo steered his header wide of the target.

Erasmus took charge again when he paced through Wits’ backline and finished with a solid lead goal. Wits quickly closed the widening score gap when Gataneh Kebede won and converted an equalising penalty kick in the 76th minute.

Pirates coach, Vladimir Vermerzovic’s game changer, Lehlohonolo Majoro impressed the crowd when he came on and netted a brilliantly angled shot received from Sifiso Myeni’s header in the 84th minute, making Orlando Pirates lead with a 2-1.

Without hesitation, the striker finished a 3-1 lead when he strategically beat the offside trap and sent his shot over Wits goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane who advanced towards “Major” in an attempt to deflect his 2nd victory.

Major’s finish made the climb steeper for Wits who could not cover four goals to advance to the final stage.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt was clearly disappointed: “We were dead and buried even before they scored the first goal”.

“All credit to them for breaking away on the second goal of death, we were dead and buried even before they scored the first goal”, said Hunt.

Wits’ Clever Boys kick off the season with a solid start

 

CAPTAINS DUEL: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles for the ball with Maritzburg United captain Ashley Hartog in a match which saw the Clever Boys create multiple chances but manage to only score a solitary goal. Photo: Luca Kotton

CAPTAIN’S DUEL: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles for the ball with Maritzburg United captain Ashley Hartog in a match which saw the Clever Boys create multiple chances but manage to only score a solitary goal. Photo: Luca Kotton

Bidvest Wits beat Maritzburg United by a solitary goal to remain unbeaten in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) at Bidvest Stadium this evening.

The Clever Boys started the match with a number of new players and managed to create multiple scoring opportunities but ended the game with little to show for it apart from the goal of Sthembiso Ngcobo.

The change in formation with no wingers in midfield and two strikers upfront seemed to challenge the home side’s creativity.

Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits coach told Wits Vuvuzela after the match: ”To play with two strikers you have to play with no width, so we played with no width today although on Sunday we tried and we just got burnt.”

Phumlani Ntshangase played his first game of the season for the Clever Boys, received the man of the match award along with weighty praise from the coach.

“He was the difference in the team, he was fantastic … I should have put him in a long time ago bit obviously he was suspended in the beginning of the season and now he can come in,” Hunt said.

Cornelis Kwakman, a Wits defender, also played his first game since arriving from the Netherlands and kept a clean sheet for his team, putting himself in strong contention for selection as the team’s main centre back.

Kwakman told Wits Vuvuzela: “The teams performance was very good, if you saw the pitch it was very difficult to play. We had a lot of chances today, I have not seen more chances for the team this whole season.”

The Clever Boys face Orlando Pirates in the second leg of the MTN8 at Orlando Stadium this Saturday with a two goal deficit working against them.

Clever boys have a mountain to climb after defeat at the hands of Pirates

CHASING DOWN: Buhle Mkhwanazi of Bidvest Wits watches Kermit Erasmus run past him during their MTN8 semi-final clash. As the picture suggests, the Clever boys are chasing Pirates after the Buccaneers took a two goal lead in the two match tie. Photo: Luca Kotton

CHASING DOWN: Buhle Mkhwanazi of Bidvest Wits watches Kermit Erasmus run past him during their MTN8 semi-final clash. The Clever boys are chasing Pirates after the Buccaneers took a two goal lead in the two match tie. Photo: Luca Kotton

Orlando Pirates outsmarted the Clever Boys in a 2-0 victory at a packed Bidvest Stadium earlier this afternoon.

The win leaves Pirates in a commanding position over Bidvest Wits in the two-leg MTN8 semi-final.

The Buccaneers tactically looked stronger than the home team with ample goal-scoring opportunities and a very tight defence.

Pirates coach, Vladimir Vermezovic told Wits Vuvuzela,”Every game is a battle on the field, at the end of the day everything depends on players. We as coaches can prepare strategy and tactical approach but everything depends on them. Fortunately , the players did everything we told them before the game.”

The match started in typical fashion for both top-placed Premier League sides with Pirates dominating possession but unable to create any telling opportunities.

The first half ended scoreless but early in the second half, a Daine Klate corner-kick was met by the head of Orlando Pirates captain Siyabonga Sangweni for the first goal of the match.

After the goal, Bidvest Wits pushed for the equaliser, however, after missing a golden chance to score in the Pirates box, the away side countered with more pace and pressure.

Thabo Matlaba netted the second for the Buccaneers, with a composed finish past the helpless Thapelo “Jackson” Mabokgwane who was left one-on-one with the Pirates defender.

The game ended with Bidvest Wits unable to break down the defence of Vermezovic’s men who held the score at 2-0.

Bidvest Wits will travel to Orlando Stadium next week Saturday with a mountain of a two-goal deficit to to climb.

Vermezovich added,” We realise that 2-0 is a very dangerous result and Wits is also a very strong team and we won’t underestimate them, after today’s result.”

 

 

Bidvest Wits goes for a mix of youth and experience in new signings

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has opted for a mix of youth and experience in the team's new signings. Photo: Courtesy Bidvest Wits.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has opted for a mix of youth and experience in the team’s new signings. Photo: Bidvest Wits.

Nine new players have joined premier league side Bidvest Wits ahead of the start of the season in August.

Gavin Hunt, Bidvest coach, appears to have gone with a mix of youth and experience, with five of the new signings over 30-years-old.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Hunt said, “The team was very thin in defence, I lost some defenders last season so I had to replace them and strengthen the squad.”

“With the new guys on board, they bring a lot experience, played a lot games between them, versatile in their positions and that’s why we bought them.”

The experienced players include Platinum Stars striker Henrico Botes, Maritzburg United left-side player Dillon Shepard, Moroko Swallows defensive player Giorgi Nergadze, Zambian Christopher Katongo and Dutch Eredivisie star Kees Kwakman.

Hunt also opted for four young talents with Nedbank Cup young player nominee Vincent Pule And University of Pretoria star Buhle Mkhwanazi.

Thulani Hlatshwayo from Ajax Cape Town and 20-year-old Mthokozisi Msomi from Roses United, also join the squad which finished third in the league last season.

When Hunt was asked if he leans on either youth or experience, he said, “A bit of everything, we have lots of young players in the squad and the new signings were brought in to bring stability and help the young ones come on. The reason we came third was because we lacked experience and the combination of youth plus experience is what’s needed for season.”

Hunt will need the experience of the new signings as the team looks likely to participate in this year’s Confederations Cup based on a decision by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to increase the number of South Africa teams in the competition to four. Bidvest Wits together with Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates qualify for the tournament. 

The Clever Boys will start their new season with a clash against Bloemfontein Celtic on August 1 at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg.

Wits hosts under-17 soccer tournament

READY: Bidvest Wits under 17 team always come in as one of the possible winners for the Engen tournament. Photo: Provided

READY: Bidvest Wits under 17 team always come in as one of the possible winners for the Engen tournament. Photo: Provided

Wits University will play host to the country’s top junior soccer players when the under-17 Engen Knockout Regional Challenge comes to campus from July 18-20.

The tournament sees the best of Gauteng’s youth teams taking part in the sixteen team showpiece.

The winner of the event will face the other regional winners around the country to lift the champions-of-champions trophy in Soweto in October.

Gauteng is arguably the most competitive leg of the tournament hosting teams like Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits and last years’ winners Mamelodi Sundowns.

Engen sponsorship manager Brad Bergh emphasised the tournament is a foundation for developing future Bafana Bafana stars who will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Thulani Serero, Katlego Pule and Asive Langwe all of whom have played in the tournament.

SOCCER: Orlando Pirates take Nedbank Cup honours over Wits

RUNNER UP: Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits coach shows his emotions during a home game against Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

RUNNER UP: Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits coach, shows his emotions during a home game against Kaizer Chiefs ealier this year. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

Orlando Pirates lifted the Nedbank Cup trophy today with a 3-1 victory over Bidvest Wits at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

The Buccaneers have lost in three previous finals and this win over the Clever Boys finally gives their fans some needed relief along with a R7-million cheque for the club.

The 3-1 score line was not a true reflection of the game according to Bidvest coach, Gavin Hunt, who was visibly upset after the game.

Hunt said, ” The players are distraught, they know they were robbed.”

When asked if Bidvest Wits is looking to improve, he said,”Other institutions of football should improve, it was a disgrace,” pointing to his disapproval of the referee’s decisions.

Pirates were looking to win their first of four finals this season and got off to a shaky start with an early goal in the 27 minute by the Clever Boys midfielder, Jabulani Shongwe.

The first half was a physical affair with Orlando Pirates boasting the majority of possession with 56% but trailing Wits by one goal.

The Champions came out in the second half with renewed energy and were rewarded after 53 minutes by a Kermit Erasmus goal.

The on-field tension eventually erupted into a full on fracas involving managers, technical staff and players in the second half.

But Pirates were not easily distracted and  former Bidvest Wits player, Sifiso Myeni netted the second goal putting his team  2-1 ahead.

The match was all but sealed with the second Erasmus goal after 73 minutes. The striker deservedly ended the game with the man of the match award.

 

SOCCER: Clever Boys Captain in the running for three PSL awards

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles away in their Nedbank Cup win over Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Luca Kotton

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles away in their Nedbank Cup win over Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Luca Kotton

Sibusiso Vilakazi could finish this weekend with a cupboard-full of silverware and a cheque for R7-million for his team.

The captain of Bidvest Wits will lead his team in the Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates on Saturday, and on Sunday, could walk away with any of 3 awards at the annual Premier Soccer League (PSL) awards.

The 24-year-old Soweto-born midfielder debuted for Wits in the 2009/2010 season after being groomed by the Bidvest Wits academy.

He has since notched up over 100 first-team appearances and been rewarded with the club’s captaincy and two national team caps for South Africa.

Vilakazi’s leadership saw his team finish third in the PSL this year and he has been nominated for the player of the season, the ABSA premiership players’ player of the season and the Nedbank Cup player of the tournament at the end of season awards.

Overseas target

Vilakazi’s performance has attracted some interest from Brondby in Denmark and the Clever Boys captain may be jetting overseas by the beginning of next season.

According to Vilakazi, he spent a week in Denmark on trial and a transfer there looks likely. Vilakazi has spent the last 5 years of his professional career with the Clever Boys and has no regrets.

“So far it has been great. I have worked through step by step, baby steps as well. I hope I can grow better and better.”

With an exciting weekend ahead for the Clever Boys captain, he said, “I’m hoping it will start with the cup final and we will see what happens with the awards but I’m hoping we lift the trophy.”

The final showdown

The Nedbank Cup final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, on Saturday afternoon, will be a tightly contested match if the draw in their last meeting is anything to go by. Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt said, “Winning the cup will define if the season is good or bad.”

Vilakazi will no doubt play a vital role in the clash on Saturday afternoon and said, “It comes down to that important day, what happened in the past doesn’t matter, we focus on what’s happening now.”

Vilakazi said that his team deserves at least one trophy for the season. He would be lifting the trophy as captain if they win and he added,” I believe in my team and each and every individual.”

 

SOCCER: The Clever Boys look forward to Nedbank Cup Final

BIDVEST WITS has moved all of its attention to the Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates, after sealing third place in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The final will take place on May 17 at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, after much discussion amongst the Nedbank Cup organising committee and the PSL.
The Clever Boys final showdown against Orlando Pirates will be the biggest match of the season for the Braamfontein-based team, which will be looking to pick up silverware for the first time since 2010. Incidentally, the trophy the team won then was the Nedbank Cup.

Hunt vs Vermezovich

Orlando Pirates are under the reign of their recently appointed coach, Vladimir Vermezovich, who only took charge of the team almost a month after his appointment due to work permit
issues. Vermezovich guided his previous team, Kaizer Chiefs, to two cup finals but never a Nedbank Cup victory.

HEATED AFFAIR: Bidvest Wits players clash with their Orlando Pirates counterparts in the last match between the teams. Photo: Luca Kotton

HEATED AFFAIR: Bidvest Wits players clash with their Orlando Pirates
counterparts in the last match between the teams. Photo: Luca Kotton

The Serbian coach was confident of his team’s victory in the final and said: “It will be a disgrace for a team of Orlando Pirates calibre to go a season without a trophy, so we will have to win this one.”

In contrast, Gavin Hunt, the Bidvest Wits coach has tasted success in the Nedbank Cup with his previous team. Hunt guided Supersport United to a Nedbank Cup victory in 2012.

How the teams face up

In head-to-head statistics, the Buccaneers hold the edge over the Clever Boys as they have won 24 of the teams clashes with their opponents having only won 12. Their last two matches in the current season saw a home win for Orlando Pirates in February and a stalemate at the Bidvest stadium at the end of April. Going on the head-to-head games the outlook wouldn’t be positive for the Clever Boys trophy aspirations but Hunt had
previously told Wits Vuvuzela, “Cup games are completely different to league games, you can’t compare.”

Fringe players get the chance

Wits failed to beat Maritzburg United in their last home game of the season on Tuesday night and Hunt gave many of his fringe players an opportunity to play, making nine changes from the team that won the Nedbank Cup semi-final against Kaizer Chiefs. Hunt said: “I gave players a chance but the players are not good enough, some of them. Some players have been here for two or three years now and they won’t be here next season.”

Who will be missing?

Hunt said he would go back to his “A” team for the Nedbank final.The only big blow for the Clever Boys will be the absence of Papy Faty who is out for nine months after a tackle from Oupa Manyisa in Bidvest Wits’ last home clash against the Buccaneers.

Orlando Pirates may be without striker Lennox Bacela, who injured his ankle in their 2-1 semifinal win over Maritzburg United.

The spectacle

The final in Durban which will see the winning team bagging R7-million in prize money is sure to be a spectacle. PSL chief executive, Brand de Villiers said: “We are planning a spectacular event on May 17 and we urge football fans to purchase their tickets early.”

Danielle van de Merwe, the Bidvest Wits marketing manager, told Wits Vuvuzela: “The club will notify the supporter club members of any travel arrangements made.”

luca@witsvuvuzela.com

SOCCER: Clever Boys defeat Kaizer Chiefs in epic semi-final

TIGHt BATTLE: The Clever Boys captain, Sibusiso Vilakazi, gets chased by Kaizer Cheifs Defender Erik Mathoho. Photo: Luca Kotton

TIGHT BATTLE: The Clever Boys captain, Sibusiso Vilakazi, gets chased by Kaizer Chiefs defender Erik Mathoho in a tense match at Bidvest Stadium. Photo: Luca Kotton

The Clever Boys are into the Nedbank Cup final with a resounding victory over Kaizer Chiefs on home turf earlier this afternoon.

The semi-final clash ended on equal terms (2-2) after extra time but Wits overcame the AmaKhosi 4-2 on penalties to win the tightly contested match at the Bidvest Stadium.

The first half of the match saw both teams return to the dressing room with a goal a piece. The Clever Boys broke the deadlock with captain Sibusiso Vilakazi netting a penalty past Chiefs captain, Itumeleng Khune.

Shortly after, another penalty was awarded, this time in Chief’s favour, with striker,  Katlego Mphela, netting the equaliser.

Wits started the second half strongly with an early goal by ex- Chiefs striker, Amos Ngcobo. This was cancelled out by an easy tap in from George Maluleka after some good work by Kingston Nkhata, who was booed the during the entire match by his own supporters.

The first half of extra time held nothing exciting with both teams taking a cautious approach. The second half though saw pressure from Kaizer Chiefs, which saw them hitting the post in the first few seconds. Wits rarely troubled Chiefs in the last few minutes as the  score held out to go into penalties.

Wits sealed the win by netting every one of their four penalties. Chiefs though, had failed to score two of their penalties with a miss by the iconic Siphiwe Tshabalala. Wits’ Moeneeb Joseph also managed a save against Reneilwe Letsholonyane.

Clever Boys coach, Gavin Hunt, was delighted by the victory and at the prospect of playing in a big final. Speaking exclusively to Wits Vuvuzela after the match, Hunt said, “it’s going to be a hell of a game whoever we play, where we play is going to big thing because the venue is always important.”

Wits will face the winners of the Orlando Pirates/Maritzburg United match later tonight at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

The date and venue of the game is yet to be decided and will be announced after the conclusion of the second semi-final later this evening.