The stage is set for the final at the sold-out Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. Ajax Cape Town, First Division champions and 8-0 semi final winners against Orlando Pirates, who have struggled to a 10th-placed finish in the Premiership this season but have fared much better in cup competitions, winning the MTN 8, reaching the quarter finals of the CAF Champions League, and making the final in this competition off the back of a huge semi final win of their own, a 5-0 smashing of Bidvest Wits. Orlando will have three men missing from this final due to injury, while we will be missing the injured Sirgio Kammies (who wouldn’t have started anyway) and starting defensive midfielder Riyaaz Koopstadt, who is at the U-20 World Cup with South Africa. Orlando are slightly favored, but we have every reason to believe we can win this match, especially considering how many better Premiership teams we have already beaten to get here. It’ll be up to the players to go out and get the job done.
And here are the players, as we set up in our usual holding 4-3-3 against Orlando’s 4-4-2. Brandon Petersen gets the nod in goal for us, who could end his time at the club with glory. The standard 1st XI back line is in place except for Khumalo, who I’ve replaced with the more productive Sasman (who will be replacing him for good next season). Bull is waiting on the bench as both an excellent defensive option and a huge set piece threat. Takwara fills in for the missing Koopstadt, the former having quietly had an outstanding season for us but will leave due to work permit concerns. Margeman and Nel start ahead of him, with Monama as a dangerous replacement on the bench. Morris and Mosadi fill the wings as usual, with Phiri also primed to enter from the bench if needed. Verhaar has become the 1st XI striker over Nxumalo, so his inclusion here is now the norm.
On the opposing side, I’ll be hoping Brilliant Khuzwayo doesn’t perform as his name suggests in goal. I’ll also be wary of both left back Innocent Maela- who has the exact same stats as Sasman- and striker Justin Shonga, who has scored an impressive 24 goals this season.
It’s time to go out there and win this. Gaan!
Wow, what an incredible cup run this has been. As confident as I was that we would be getting promoted this season, I definitely wasn’t expecting a double. The result against Sundowns was the highlight of our season, and this win in the final is just the icing on the cake, even if we didn’t end up defending our big lead as well as we should have.
This cup run has given me reason to be very optimistic about our potential performance next season, as we’ve already beaten some of the best sides the Premiership has to offer with the squad that was given to me at the beginning of the save. With three future transfers secured for next season and more likely to follow, I can only imagine how dangerous our squad will be before long. Also, whoever got this side relegated in 2018 ought to be even more ashamed of themselves now!
The biggest reward of this cup win is a spot in the CAF Confederation Cup (Africa’s Europa League equivalent), so we will be playing continental football next season, which is way ahead of schedule. I genuinely can’t wait to play on the continent, as nothing excites me more in FM than trips to faraway countries to play teams I’ve never heard of!
I’ll put up the season review later today, after I play the Real Kings match. Then it’ll be time to crack on with next season! Something tells me it’ll be even more exciting than this one… stay tuned.