Sekhukhune United cautious ahead of Nedbank Cup final
PIC: Daniel Cardoso
Veteran Sekhukhune United midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo says recent history will count for nothing when they face Orlando Pirates in the 2023 Nedbank Cup decider at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 18h00).
Sekhukhune took four points off Pirates in their two games in the 2022/23 DStv Premiership campaign, including playing to a battling 1-1 draw away from home earlier this month.
But Mokotjo, one of the most experienced players in domestic football, says this weekend will be a new day and a clean slate for both sides.
“The most important thing is to make sure that we keep to our principles. We play intelligently and at a good intensity, where we can cause problems for the opposing side,” Mokotjo said on Wednesday.
“The fact that we won the first leg and drew the other [in the league] is just history. This is the game that not a lot of players will get to play in their lives, so it’s the one where you’ll see the boys show what they are made of, and that is important.”
Mokotjo has spent the last 14 years playing abroad, so this will be a first South African cup final for one of the most talented players of his generation.
One player who has featured in several is defender Daniel Cardoso, who has yet to taste victory having finished runner-up in the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and, most recently, the 2019 Nedbank Cup final when his then club Kaizer Chiefs were shocked by second-tier TS Galaxy in the decider in Durban.
“Another cup final … I’ve been through quite a few without success and personally, I would love to lift this trophy, not just myself, but for the team too,” Cardoso said.
“It’s the second season in the PSL for Sekhukhune and I think the club really deserves to be in this position. This is the reason why the club brought in the players that they did.
“No one expected us to be here, and I also don’t want to be known as ‘Daniel da Silver’ anymore, I would love to pick up that gold medal and I’m sure we are confident to do it.”
Cardoso’s centre-back partner will be big Ghanaian Edwin Gyimah, who is also no stranger to Nedbank Cup finals and has been in superb form this season.
Gyimah lifted the trophy with SuperSport United in 2012, but was on the losing side in the 2013 and 2016 finals, the latter with Pirates.
Coach Brandon Truter deserves credit for getting the best out of a player many had written off in recent years.
“it’s me just pushing him in the right direction and pushing the right buttons,” Truter said. “He scored against Pirates and against SuperSport [in the league] and those are his former clubs.
“So whatever he went through, he used it in a positive way. He is a big part and key figure in our changing room. I depend on him a lot and he also relies on me and can lean on me any time.”
Sekhukhune are appearing in a first cup final in their history having only been formed in 2019, and among the professional ranks since 2020.