Local is lekker for third-tier Madridtas in Nedbank Cup
PIC: Nedbank Cup trophy
The beauty and charm of the Nedbank Cup is the bringing together of South Africa’s elite clubs and those who campaign at amateur level, providing exposure to teams many fans in the country may never have heard of.
A new one to add to the list is Limpopo-based Madridtas, who compete in the Limpopo ABC Motsepe League having entered the third tier at the start of this season.
The club won their SAB League stream in 2022/23, but failed to earn promotion through the play-offs, so purchased the status of famous Limpopo club Black Leopards, who had been relegated from the ABC Motsepe Foundation Championship.
Leopards in turn purchased the status of second-tier All Stars to remain in that division.
Madridtas will complete a whirlwind 12 months with a debut in the 2024 Nedbank Cup, paired in the Last 32 with fellow third-tier side D’General from the Free State in a fixture that is likely to be played in Botshabelo in the week of February 20-27.
Madridtas hail from the small town of Tshifudi, 35-kilometres from Thohoyandou, and was formed some 10 years ago with the express ambition of giving local talent a chance to shine, with all but two players in the squad hailing from the surrounding area.
Coached by Mashudu Mudau, they had hoped for a big fish in the Last 32 and the chance to bring one of the country’s top teams to the Thohoyandou Stadium, but now also see the opportunity to advance to the Last 16 and gain not only exposure, but also increased prize-money.
“I was looking forward to be drawn against one of the big three in the elite league such as Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns or Orlando Pirates in the early stages of this competition,” Mudau said.
“Not only does playing against these big clubs draw the attention of everyone, but it is also a big platform for the players. This is the platform where their skills get exposure in order for them to earn lucrative contracts.
“Nevertheless, we are happy about drawing a club in our ranks, as that gives us a chance to progress to the next round.”
Mudau says it has been a big boost in morale for his players to see the club in the same draws as the likes of Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns, and everyone is determined to go as deep into the competition as possible.
“Qualifying for the Nedbank Cup shortly after our recent (elevation) to the ABC Motsepe League is a milestone to us and the financial windfall that comes with it is a morale booster as well,” he said.
“Our presence should also be seen as a warning that we are not in this competition to add to the numbers.”
What is certain is that there will be at least two amateur sides in the Last 16 this year, with either Madridtas or D’General, and the winner of FC Ravens versus Spain FC to be in the hat.
They will hope to follow the example of Gauteng side Dondol Stars last season, who defeated topflight SuperSport United and AmaZulu before a narrow loss on penalties to eventual winners Orlando Pirates in the quarterfinals.
Or go back even further in history and emulate fellow Limpopo outfit Baroka FC, who reached the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup as a third-tier team in 2011.