On Wednesday night, TS Galaxy, the reigning Nedbank Cup champions, will begin the journey to defend the title they won just over a year ago in Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay against last year’s semi-finalists, Chippa United.
The strong wind that often blows in the Indian Ocean might be an unfamiliar environmental factor for ‘The Rockets’ – but strong winds are not always a bad thing. For example, strong winds can be a source of momentum to athletes thus boasting their chance of winning.
For Dan “Dance” Malisela – the TS Galaxy mentor who guided the side to their historic win against Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida in 2019, the opening fixture provides a good opportunity to prove to all that last year’s run was no fluke but a combination of opportunity meeting preparations.
The victory in May 2019 transformed the side from being a relatively unknown brand – only 11 months old at the time – to a name that was on everyone’s lips.
Call it fate. Call it destiny but do not call it luck for the people at Galaxy simply reject the notion that they pitched up at Moses Mabhida last year and, suddenly, something so unreliable as ‘luck’ handed them the victory.
TS Galaxy will give you the stats: In 2019, they never played a single match at home. In 2019, they eliminated a Lamontville Golden Arrows side in the semi-finals – a club whose DNA is built around discipline, possession and structure. TS Galaxy will remind you that at Moses Mabhida, only a man whose faith can move mountains made a bet on them upsetting the odds against Kaizer Chiefs.
Luck, they might argue, is when one bumps into a R100 bill note on the street while minding your own business but football matches are won over 90 minutes of tactic, sweat, hard work and other practical stuff.
Fast forward in 2020 February. TS Galaxy is now no longer a surprise entity. They have kept the bulk of the squad that did business for them, bar a few that include star striker Zakhele Lepasa.
They might still be competing in the GladAfrica Championship but they are no longer underdogs in this competition. Chippa United, a side also on form under Zimbabwean Norman Mapeza, will be worried about the momentum from the strong wind behind Galaxy’s 2019 triumph.
Club President Tim Sukazi sees more opportunities from their away encounter: “As the fastest growing football brand in the country, we have never been to the Eastern Cape, so we welcome this draw. We have been looking for an opportunity to go to the Eastern Cape in any way so at some point, we thought of parading our trophy there, but our hectic schedule has never allowed that. We have a number of supporters in the Eastern Cape who have been longing to see this club so when Chippa came out, I was hoping we would be the team that goes there.”
The intention from Galaxy is to build – building from the solid foundation laid in 2019 but repeating the same magic might be a steep mountain.
Once again, they found themselves in 2020 back to where it started – where few will give them a chance to succeed. Possibly, this is where and what they prefer.