Second Division Steenberg, though, have it all to do as they come up against Platinum Stars at Athlone Stadium tonight (kickoff 8pm). There aren’t too many who give the Philippi-based lower-tier side a chance, but that is the appeal of this cup competition. As much as common sense suggests Dikwena should walk it, there is always the possibility of a surprise result. Steenberg certainly believe they can do it.
Ajax take on fellow-PSL club Free State Stars at Athlone on Saturday evening (kick-off 6pm), with coach Roger de Sa in a rather circumspect frame of mind. His team hasn’t covered itself in glory of late, while there’s also the fact that Ea Lla Koto recently defeated Ajax in a league fixture.
But with Santos already through to the last 16 after a 1-0 win over Mthatha Bucks at Athlone on Wednesday, Ajax and Steenberg are keen to make sure there are three Cape clubs in the next round.
NFD side Santos have been too inconsistent to mount any charge for promotion this season, which is why head coach Zeca Marques has targeted the Nedbank Cup as a vehicle for his squad to spend some time in the spotlight. After Iqraam Rayners’ winning goal sent them into the last 16, The People’s Team are definitely on course for a good run in the event.
Steenberg’s confidence ahead of tonight’s tie against Dikwena is based on the fact that they have a good blend of youth and experience in their squad.
Not only do they have talented youngsters looking to use the Nedbank Cup stage as a chance to showcase their ability, but they also have two Cape veterans – Marawaan Bantam and Thembinkosi “Terror” Fanteni – eager to play out their careers with a bang.
Fanteni was the scourge of defenders during his time at Ajax. His scoring prowess led to a transfer to Israel, while he also turned out for Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana. His arrival at Steenberg this season is likely to be his swansong and he wants to make sure that it’s a successful one.
“Platinum will be under pressure, they are the PSL club,” said Fanteni. “But I’m feeling good again, and I’m ready to perform in whatever capacity the coach needs me. Most importantly, for the young players in our squad, they have to approach the game as they would any other… and just go out and enjoy the occasion.”
For Ajax forward Tashreeq Morris, meanwhile, the start of the Nedbank Cup is likely to trigger some bitter-sweet memories. Last season, Morris and Ajax enjoyed an inspired run all the way to the final of the competition, only for the hardworking 21-year-old to be badly injured in the penalty-shootout defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns in Port Elizabeth.
Morris had an operation and was out for about 14 months before returning to action early last month. While he is still not at his best, De Sa has been impressed with the manner in which the player has conducted himself since coming back into the team, and he’s looking for another big effort from the attacker against Ea Lla Koto on Saturday.
“Tassie’s all-round contribution has been good,” said De Sa. “I don’t think he’s 90 minutes-ready yet, which is why he tires towards the latter stages of the game, and we give him a break.
“But he’s getting better with every game. He’s a superb athlete and a great team player.”
Original source: Fanteni ready to strike terror into Platinum Stars