There will be a new Nedbank Cup champion crowned at the Free State Stadium on Saturday as TTM and Chippa United clash in the 2021 decider, each hoping to make history and win a first major trophy for the respective teams.
It is the culmination of an unusual campaign that did not feature sides from the Safa structures for the first time in the competition’s history as the Covid-19 pandemic restricted amateur football earlier in the year.
It also features two unlikely finalists who are both fighting relegation at the foot of the DStv Premiership table, but are fully deserving of their place in the Nedbank Cup decider.
Here are 10 facts going into the clash in Bloemfontein.
1) The final duo may be struggling near the foot of the DStv Premiership table, but both come into the Nedbank Cup decider with some form behind them after wins. Chippa have won back-to-back league games for the first time since December 2019, while TTM have won three of their last five league encounters (L2). It is certainly much better form than either had displayed earlier in the campaign and suggests the Nedbank Cup has been a big boost for their confidence.
2) These two sides have met twice before, including in the Nedbank Cup. They clashed in the second round in 2019 when TTM were still campaigning in the second-tier and Chippa ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium thanks to goals from Kurt Lentjies and Mark Mayambela. They also clashed as the same venue in the league earlier this campaign, which ended in a 1-1 draw in November. Augustine Kwem gave Chippa the lead, but former Chilli Boyz star Thabo Rakhale equalised for TTM. The reverse league clash in Limpopo is scheduled for 26 May.
3) One of these clubs will make history in Saturday’s final – neither have won a major cup competition before, let alone South Africa’s most prestigious and coveted knockout trophy. There have been eight different winners of the Nedbank Cup since 2008, with one of these teams to become the ninth.
4) TTM’s Dylan Kerr will take part in his first cup final as a coach, having missed out last year when his Baroka FC were beaten 3-0 by Bloemfontein Celtic in the semifinals. But he has lifted silverware in South Africa before, though it was some 35 years ago. He was part of the Arcadia Shepherds side that defeated Wits University in the decider of the BP Top 8 in 1986.
5) Chippa’s Vladislav Heric has been working in South African football for 16 years, but will take part in his first cup final. Most of his jobs have been in the second tier and he has won a trophy before, lifting the National First Division with Chippa in 2013-14. This is his third spell with the club.
6) TTM (Limpopo) and Chippa United (Eastern Cape) will be hoping to become the first teams from their respective provinces to lift the Nedbank Cup trophy. The other provinces yet to provide a winner are KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Northern Cape. Gauteng (40 wins) leads the way, followed by Western Cape (4), Free State (2) and Mpumalanga (2).
7) Both of these clubs have exactly 50 per cent win ratios in Nedbank Cup matches. Chippa have claimed 10 wins from their 20 games to date since their first participation in 2011. Given that they lost three of their first four games, their win ratio is higher since 2017 (63 per cent). TTM have won three of their six games to date since they first debuted in 2019. In fact, their only defeat was in the second round in 2019 … to Chippa.
8) Chippa look likely to be without injured talisman and top scorer for them in the Nedbank Cup (with six goals), Andile Mbenyane. He has not played since the end of March and is the only man in the squad who has been with the Chilli Boyz for their entire history as a club. He is the nominated club captain and will be desperately disappointed to miss out on their big day.
9) Mamelodi Sundowns forward Peter Shalulile heads the competition scorers charts going into the final with four goals. The only player among the finalists to have netted more than once this season is TTM forward Thabo Mnyamane, who will need a brace in the decider just to draw level with Shalulile. The latter was joint top-scorer last season with three goals in the colours of Highlands Park.
10) The Free State Stadium will host the Nedbank Cup final for the first time since 2008, becoming the 10th different venue to stage the decider. The Free State Stadium has hosted the final of South Africa’s FA Cup in the past though, when it staged the 2004 finale as Moroka Swallows defeated Manning Rangers 3-1.