from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Sekhukhune, Limpopo
SEKHUKHUNE, (CAJ News) – IF Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Manyaku Thulare had one wish granted, she would ask that two teams be crowned the kings of the Nedbank Cup on Saturday.
That is because she, the Paramount Chief of Sekhukhune, is torn between her beloved Orlando Pirates and her home team, Sekhukhune United, in the final of South Africa’s premier football cup competition.
It will be an emotional day for the Bapedi nation’s queen mother, who will lead a team of dignitaries from the region to the Loftus Versfeld Stadium to the final game of the season.
“I love them both (teams),” Thulare disclosed in an exclusive interview held with CAJ News Africa, in the Sekhukhune District Municipality.
“I shouldn’t choose who (between Sekhukhune and Pirates) I prefer to win,” the monarch was on the defensive when pressed to put her head on the block.
“They are both my children (teams),” Thulare dribbled when commenting on the Buccaneers, who are aiming to add another trophy to their teeming cabinet, and her Babina Noko hometown team, aiming for a first cup in the elite league.
“The better (winning) team will be chosen by God,” she continued.
Sekhukhune Mayor, Maleke Mokganyetji, is meanwhile not torn by divided loyalties.
She is rooting for coach Brandon Truter and his Sekhukhune side to win the Nedbank-sponsored trophy, and add to their title as 2020/21 National First Division champions.
The mayor will also be at the Pretoria venue that will bring the curtain down the 2022/23 campaign.
“We want that trophy to come to Limpopo…to come to Sekhukhune,” Mokganyeti said in an interview with CAJ News Africa, also in Sekhukhune.
“This is not only for the team. This is a legacy they should create in Sekhukhune and Limpopo,” the mayor added.
She fancied the team’s chances as they went to the final match of the 2022/23 season as underdogs against the Soweto side that is one of the most successful in South Africa.
“They (Sekhukhune) are going to win. We will return to Limpopo happily,” Mokganyetji predicted.
“We are looking forward to that trophy coming to the rural area, to the dusty area of Sekhukhune,” she added.
Last season, Pirates prevailed in the teams’ league meetings (2-0 and 1-0) but this campaign, Sekhukhune had the edge, winning 2-0 at the Peter Mokaba last October, while the most recent encounter, mid-May, finished one-all at Orlando.
Whatever the outcome of the contest this weekend, the Queen Mother will be the happiest royalty in South Africa.
Either, Pirates finish the season with two trophies after coach Jose Riveiro’s side clinched the MTN 8 or she rolls out the the red carpet on the Sekhukhune dust, for a tram that has somewhat overachieved by reaching the final and finished in the lucrative top eight (seventh) in only its second season in the DStv Premiership.
Both teams will be playing continental football next season. This is in addition to the MTN 8.
By finishing second in the league, Pirates will be in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League. The winner of the Nedbank Cup qualifies for the CAF Confederations Cup. The Nedbank Cup runners-up qualify for the Confederations Cup if the winner of the final has already booked a spot in the Champions League.
In this regard, Limpopo sides, Black Leopards and most recently, Marumo Gallants, have participated in the Confederations Cup.
– CAJ News