The Nedbank Cup quarterfinals take centre-stage this weekend, starting on Friday night as second-tier Real Kings seek an upset against Bidvest Wits.
Here is a quick guide to all four games as the semifinals beckon for the victors.
REAL KINGS VS BIDVEST WITS
When: Friday, 13 March (20h00)
Where: Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium
Real Kings from the GladAfrica Championship will be underdogs when they welcome star-studded Bidvest Wits for their quarterfinal clash, but that will not stop them believing they can cause an upset.
Wits have twice before fallen to second-tier opposition, both times on penalties after 1-1 draws, as they lost to Witbank Spurs in 2008 and Jomo Cosmos three years ago.
Kings will be playing at home in the Nedbank Cup for the first time, with both their previous two games away in this year’s competition. They beat Mpumalanga third-tier side Passion FC 3-2 and returned to the province to oust Mbombela United 2-1.
Wits have not lost a Nedbank Cup game outright on the road since a 2-1 defeat at Ajax Cape Town in 2015, though since then they have been beaten on penalties at Free State Stars and Cosmos.
In fact, four of their last five Nedbank Cup away games have gone to spot-kicks, which also includes wins in the last two at Black Leopards (2019) and Orlando Pirates (2020).
In all, Wits have only lost one Nedbank Cup game, home or away, in their last 11, which was a 1-0 reversal against Cape Town City at the BidVest Stadium in 2018.
Wits were 2010 Nedbank Cup champions and also made the final in 2014, where they lost to Pirates.
BAROKA FC VS BLACK LEOPARDS
When: Saturday, 14 March (15h00)
Where: Peter Mokaba Stadium
The Limpopo Derby is sure to be an eye-catching fixture between two sides struggling near the foot of the Premier League table, but desperate for Nedbank Cup success to boost their confidence.
It comes just a week after they met at the same venue in a league clash, where a brace of goals from Evidence Makgopa gave Baroka a huge 2-0 win in their bid for survival.
The teams have met on 13 previous occasions, with Leopards leading the head-to-head 5-3, and a further five draws. In matches at Baroka, Leopards also lead 3-2, with two draws.
These two sides famously met in the 2011 Nedbank Cup semifinals when Baroka were campaigning in the third-tier, but had beaten both Moroka Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs along the way.
That game finished 2-2, before Leopards won 3-1 on penalties to advance to what remains their only major cup final, where they lost 3-1 to Orlando Pirates. Lidoda Duvha were in the National First Division that season.
HIGHLANDS PARK VS MAMELODI SUNDOWNS
When: Saturday, 14 March (18h00)
Where: Makhulong Stadium
Highlands Park will be seeking to claim another major scalp when they host Mamelodi Sundowns at their feared Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa.
It is the third home game in a row for Highlands in this year’s competing and after beating second-tier Uthongathi 2-0, they saw off the mighty Kaizer Chiefs on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Highlands are a tough side to beat anywhere, but are especially strong in Tembisa, where their only ever home Nedbank Cup defeat came against Sundowns in 2016, though back then they still campaigned in the National First Division.
Highlands made the second round of the Nedbank Cup last year and the quarterfinals this season, but their victory over Uthongathi remains their only ever outright win in seven games, needing penalties to advance past AmaZulu (2019) and Chiefs (2020).
Sundowns have lost their last two away Nedbank Cup clashes, going out to Maritzburg United (2018) and Chippa United (2019) in the last two seasons.
Since then they have won home games against SuperSport United (1-0) and Vaal University of Technology (2-0), and along with Black Leopards are the only side remaining in this year’s competition that has yet to concede a goal.
Highlands and Sundowns have met on six previous occasions, with The Brazilians winning four of those and two draws. They have two wins and a draw in Tembisa.
TS SPORTING VS BLOEMFONTEIN CELTIC
When: Sunday, 15 March (15h00)
Where: Kanyamazane Stadium
Second-tier TS Sporting might fancy an upset against Bloemfontein Celtic, who have looked excellent in their previous two games in this year’s competition, but must now hit the road for the first time.
TS Sporting have been on a decent run in the GladAfrica Championship, though they have not won at home since early December, with four draws and a loss since then.
Both of their Nedbank Cup games this season were away from home, giving them a first chance to play in front of their own fans.
Sporting have reached the quarterfinals for the first time, and will be seeking to emulate TS Galaxy, the 2019 Nedbank Cup champions from the second-tier.
Celtic have played their last four Nedbank Cup games at home, last going on the road when they beat Super Eagles 2-1 in the last 32 in 2019.
They have battled a bit away from home in the Nedbank Cup since 2008, winning four of their 13 games, though three of those came against lower league opponents.
Celtic have twice before lost to lower league teams, but not since a 1-0 loss at University of Pretoria in 2009.
They have reached the quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons, but not advanced further, and have in fact never made the Nedbank Cup semifinals since the competition was renamed in 2008.