Football

THREE KEY BATTLES IN THE 2023 NEDBANK CUP FINAL

PIC: Monnapule Saleng

The 2023 Nedbank Cup final between Orlando Pirates and Sekhukhune United is set to be a tightly contested clash at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on May 27 (kick-off 18h00), with mini battles all over the pitch that could decide the outcome.
Finals are often decided on one moment of brilliance, or one mistake, and who wins those ‘games within a game’ will likely come out on top.
We pick three key battles on the pitch that could go a long way to deciding the outcome.

SIPHO CHAINE VS CHIBUIKE OHIZU

Chaine has made the goalkeeper position his own at Orlando Pirates this season in what has easily been the best campaign of his seven-year topflight career. There were some eyebrows raised when he joined from Chippa United two games into this season, but his performances behind one of the best defences in the league has proven the doubters wrong. He also has some unfinished business with the Nedbank Cup having been in goal for Bloemfontein Celtic when they lost the 2020 final to Mamelodi Sundowns. Ohizu has been the chief striking threat for Sekhukhune this season and is both good in the air and with the ball at his feet. His ability to create space in the box and shoot will leave Chaine having to be on his toes. The Nigerian scorer had two goals in this season’s Nedbank Cup so far.     

MIGUEL TIMM VS KAMOHELO MOKOTJO
Win the midfield, you win the game. That is the traditional saying and it may well be true in this year’s decider. Parked in the middle of the park will be two of the most experienced and wizened old hands in the local game, Pirates midfielder Timm and his Sekhukhune counterpart Mokotjo. The latter is back in the PSL after 14 years spent overseas playing in the Netherlands, England and the United States, and there are few more canny operators around. Timm has also previously played in the US and has been superb for Pirates this season as a defensive midfielder. He will be playing in his third Nedbank Cup final in a row after winning with TTM (2021) and losing with Marumo Gallants (2022). 

MONNAPULE SALENG VS EDWIN GYIMAH
There is a reason why Saleng has been nominated for PSL Footballer of the Season this year, he has been phenomenal for Pirates with 15 goals and 9 assists for a total goals contribution of 24. His pace, ability with the ball at his feet and eye for goal make him a huge danger and he is bang in form in the closing weeks of the campaign. Up against him will be tough-as-nails Ghanaian defender Gyimah, who has seen it all before and will make life difficult for the winger. He has now spent 12 years in South African football and won the Nedbank Cup in 2012 with SuperSport United. He was also on the losing side with Matsatsantsa in 2013 and against SuperSport for Pirates in 2016, making this his fourth final in the competition.

INFO SOURCED FROM THE NEDBANK CUP WEBSITE.

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