2/2/2024 12:00:00 AM

FC Ravens ready to swoop on Nedbank Cup success

PIC: FC Ravens

A new name in this year’s Nedbank Cup is that of Eastern Cape third-tier side FC Ravens, who are hoping to spring a surprise or two in this year’s competition and perhaps emulate the giant-killing acts of the past.

Ravens will play fellow third-tier side Spain FC from the North West, a club who are at the same level as them in the ABC Motsepe League. 

The Eastern Cape side do at least have homeground advantage, though they may have to host games away from their Bizana base due to the suitability of venues and the strict rules put in place by the Premier Soccer League to ensure safety. 
The side is coached by former Jomo Cosmos and Mthatha Bucks striker Sibusiso Mapompo, who played in the 2016 Nedbank Cup in a 1-0 loss for Bucks at Cape Town club Santos. Iqraam Rayners, who top-scored in the Nedbank Cup last season, got the only goal.

Mapompo was also later a coach with Bucks and is now trying to guide Ravens into the third tier, but first will have set his sights on a major scalp in the Nedbank Cup if they can make the Last 16.

Former Happy Wanderers attacking midfielder Nhlakanipho Ngubane is in the squad, along with pacy winger Zithulele Mhlontlo.

The latter is ex-University of Pretoria and Mbombela United and spent three seasons in South Africa’s second-tier.

It has been a tough road to this point already, they had to get past 2022 Nedbank Cup Last 16 side Sinenkani in the qualifiers this year. The latter beat Free State Stars in the first round two years ago before losing to TTM.
“You never know what can happen,” says prominent FC Ravens supporter Siyabonga ‘Mbesuma’ Ndlabi. “You get to the second round, and with one win you are in the quarterfinals. We have to take it one game at a time.

“But FC Ravens is a big team for the Eastern Cape with big ambitions. We are a new club (formed 2022) but we have good players, mostly local boys from Bizana.
“We have a good coach and we want to go far in the Nedbank Cup. We have made a good start in the (SAB Regional) league and we are confident.”

Should FC Ravens advance to the Last 16, they may be able to emulate some of the great Nedbank Cup shocks of all time should they draw a topflight team at that stage.

“We want to show people what we can do,” Ndlabi said. “We want people to remember the name of FC Ravens and make it known all across South Africa. If we can go far in the Nedbank Cup, we will do that.”
With FC Ravens taking on Spain FC, and D’General from the Free State hosting Limpopo outfit Madridtas, we are assured of the fact that there will be a minimum of two teams from the SAFA structures in the Nedbank Cup Last 16 this season.
Perhaps one might even go on to emulate Baroka FC’s record run for a third-tier side to the semifinals of the 2011 Nedbank Cup, which launches the professional careers of many of their players.

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