Key statistics ahead of the 2023 Nedbank Cup final
PIC: Katlego Mkhabela of Sekhukhune United challenges Monnapule Saleng of Orlando Pirates
Five-time finalists Orlando Pirates take on debutants Sekhukhune United in the decider for the 2023 Nedbank Cup trophy at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 18h00), another chapter in the rich history of South Africa’s premier knockout competition.
Pirates are seeking a second major trophy this campaign having already claimed the MTN8 title, while Sekhukhune take part in their maiden knockout decider with high hopes of causing an upset. Here are 11 facts ahead of the clash.
Pirates’ strong run
Pirates have lost only one of their previous 11 Nedbank Cup games outright dating back to 2018, which was a 4-1 defeat at the hands of mighty Mamelodi Sundowns. They have six wins and four draws in that time, though three of those stalemates ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat – to Black Leopards (2019), BidVest Wits (2020) and Marumo Gallants (2022). They edged third-tier Dondol Stars 5-4 on penalties in the quarterfinals this year so have at least ended that run of woe from 12 yards. That should give them some confidence should the decider go the distance.
Two from four
Pirates kept up their 100% record in Nedbank Cup semifinals when they beat Kaizer Chiefs to reach this year’s decider, but that win ratio slips to 50% when it comes to finals. They won their first two, beating second-tier Black Leopards 3-1 in 2011 and then claiming victory by the same scoreline over BidVest Wits three years later. But back-to-back defeats to SuperSport United in the finals in 2016 and 2017 have left a bitter taste for The Ghost, who will hope they can banish those memories this year.
The two sides have met on four previous occasions, all in the DStv Premiership. Pirates did the double over Sekhukhune in the 2021/22 season with a 2-1 home win and 1-0 victory on the road, but the tables turned in this campaign. Sekhukhune claimed a 2-0 home win in the first league clash before playing to a 1-1 draw in Orlando earlier this month. Both teams have therefore scored four goals in the four games they have played.
Iqraam Rayners looks to have sewn up the Golden Boot in this year’s Nedbank Cup unless we see something extraordinary on Saturday. The Stellenbosch FC forward has six goals, double the number of Pirates’ Thembinkosi Lorch, who has the next highest among players who could be involved on Saturday. He scored in the first three rounds for Pirates but was injured for the semifinal against Kaizer Chiefs. Unless he can manage a hattrick in the final (should he play) then the award will go to Rayners. Pirates’ other goals this term have come from Kermit Erasmus (2), Monnapule Saleng and Sandile Mthethwa.
Sekhukhune have scored the second most amount of goals in this year’s Nedbank Cup with 10, one behind Stellenbosch FC. But their path to the final has also been laid with a superb defence that has conceded only one goal in 390 minutes of football. That was against Chippa United in the quarterfinals. They have otherwise kept clean sheets in their three other games, including the semi against free-scoring Stellenbosch, which shows they will be a tough nut for Pirates to crack.
Man for the big occasion
Pirates striker Kermit Erasmus heads the list of scorers in Nedbank Cup finals since 2008, including helping his present club to victory nine years ago in his first spell with the team. Erasmus netted for SuperSport United as they defeated Sundowns in the 2012 final, and then bagged two for Pirates in their 3-1 victory over BidVest Wits in 2014. No-one has netted as many, with the only other players to have scored multiple final goals being Jeremy Brockie (SuperSport United), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Thulasizwe Mbuyane (Orlando Pirates), Sifiso Vilakazi (BidVest Wits). Erasmus is also Pirates’ joint highest scorer in the Nedbank Cup since 2008 with five goals along with current teammate Thembinkosi Lorch, and former stars Oupa Manyisa and Tendai Ndoro.
A new winner
Whichever team is victorious in Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final, we will have a new coach to add to the honour roll with one of Orlando Pirates’ Jose Riveiro or Sekhukhune United’s Brandon Truter to write their names into the history books. Only Stuart Baxter and Pitso Mosimane have claimed the Nedbank Cup title as a coach more than once since it was first played in its current guise in 2008, with 13 different tacticians celebrating victories in the previous 15 years, a list that includes co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena last season before the latter went solo.
Turnaround in fortunes
Sekhukhune had never won a Nedbank Cup game before this season, losing in the first round to Maritzburg United in 2021 and second-tier Platinum City Rovers last year when they were ousted on penalties. But their campaign got off to a rollicking start with a 6-0 success against fourth-tier Liver Brothers, which is still the biggest win in this year’s competition, and also a club record victory. Wins over promotion-chasing Cape Town Spurs (2-0) and Chippa United (2-1) followed before their shoot-out victory over Stellenbosch FC (0-0).
Own goal drama
Pirates have been the beneficiary of five own goals in the Nedbank Cup down the years, including one in the 2016 final. Mario Booysen (Maritzburg United), Clayton Daniels (SuperSport United), Lucky Mohomi (Free State Stars), Lungisani Ndlela (United FC) and Joseph Okumu (Free State Stars) have all put the ball into the back of their own net against The Buccaneers. Daniels’ misfortune came seven years ago but did not prove costly in the end as SuperSport desperately hung on for a 3-2 victory.
Ticket to African club competition
No matter what happens in Saturday’s final, Sekhukhune will represent South Africa in the CAF Confederation Cup next season. That is because opponents Pirates have qualified for the CAF Champions League through their second place finish in the DStv Premiership. Sekhukhune follow in the footsteps of Marumo Gallants, who played in the last two seasons of the Confederation Cup having qualified via the Nedbank Cup. They reached the semifinals this term but could not get past Young Africans of Tanzania. It will be a first ever African continental campaign for Sekhukhune as they fly the South African flag in foreign lands.
The stage is set
Loftus Versfeld Stadium will host the Nedbank Cup final for the first time, becoming the 12th different venue to stage the decider. Nedbank has kept its promise to take the final around the country, with the only venue that was used at the 2010 FIFA World Cup yet to stage the decider being Ellis Park in Johannesburg.