Cup competitions remain the stuff of sheer footballing fantasy. A semi-professional plumber or petrol station attendant can outwit the top flight’s best, and any team – even those at the very bottom of the lowest tier of South African football – can win on the day. The magic of the Nedbank Cup lies in these moments of unheralded triumph, where minnows can emerge victorious in a sport marked by such vast chasms of inequality.
Since 2008, the Nedbank Cup has been throwing up results that defy all predictions and make the brave punter very rich. This past weekend, third-tier side Acornbush United continued the trend by disposing of high-flying PSL outfit and Telkom Knockout holders Cape Town City 1-0 at Kabokweni Stadium near Nelspruit. It was a bad weekend all round for the Mother City, with the Cape Town Cycle Tour cancelled due to strong winds, Ajax Cape Town succumbing 4-3 on penalties to KZN Second Division campaigners KwaDukuza United and FC Cape Town beaten 2-0 by Baroka FC.
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Giant-killers Baroka have a history of producing upsets in the competition. While campaigning in the third-tier Vodacom Limpopo league, they accounted for both Moroka Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs in the 2011 edition of the Nedbank. Chiefs have featured in a number of the competition’s biggest upsets, losing 4-3 to University of Pretoria in 2009 and going down 2-1 to FC Cape Town a year later. The Amakhosi were also bested by Black Leopards 2-1 in 2015.
However, Chiefs fans will be heartened by the fact that while their team has ended up losing by the odd goal to lower-tier opposition on a number of occasions, this is not nearly as terrible as the humiliation suffered by Orlando Pirates when they were thrashed 4-1 by little-known Malusi FET College in 2013. That astonishing result remains the biggest upset in the history of the competition. Talk about being taken to school!