By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
BLACK Leopards have a chance to avenge their last season’s defeat by Vasco da Gama during the National First Division (NFD) promotion/relegation play-offs.
Lidoda Duvha welcome Da Gama at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup and club the club brand manager Tshifhiwa “Chief” Thidiela has since described the match as a platform to settle the score against the Cape side.
“Da Gama ruined our dream return to the elite league, and they are very much aware that we have unfinished business with them. We stand a good chance to revenge after they beat us on an away goal rule last season in the play-offs,” said Thidiela.
For the record, Da Gama recorded a 1-0 victory away to Leopards at Tshifhulanani Stadium before the two could play to a 1-1 draw in Cape Town in return leg clash.
“Since then we have never had another chance of playing them as they were promoted to the premiership, and this is an opportunity to reverse the pain to them,” added Thidiela.
With the full focus on finishing in the second spot on the inland stream’s NFD which will give them an automatic qualification to the this season’s Prmotion/Relagation Play-Offs, it remain to be seen as to how will the Venda-bases side perform in this match against Da Gama in the Ke Yona Cup.
Vasco da Gama striker Jerome ‘JJ” Ramatlhakwane on the other hand has a different version on their match against Leopards.
“It will be us celebrating come 5pm tomorrow and we are going to turn Polokwane into a small Cape Town after beating Leopards in their own back-yard on our way to our dream to win the Nedbank Cup,” said the optimistic Ramatlhakwane.
The Parow-based team have booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 3-2 win over Amajuba United Killers and a 2-0 victory over Platinum Stars, both games away from home.
Ramatlhakwana was not part of the promotion winning team that beat Leopards last season, but is nevertheless aware of the history between the two clubs.
“I remember Vasco beat Leopards in the play-offs, so they will be out for revenge, they will come into the game motivated and ready to get one over us.”
“It’s going to be a tricky game for us, and we can expect it to be hot. It’s going to be very tough.
“Anything can happen in a cup competition, but we are confident that we can win this game if we are at our best – who knows, the Nedbank Cup could be our destiny this season,” added Ramatlhakwane.
Vasco go into the game having lost 3-2 to Moroka Swallows in the league and will perhaps enjoy the break from Absa Premiership responsibilities.
Ramatlhakwana was happy to have gotten off the mark for his new club against Swallows, having joined the team mid-season from neighbours Santos, where he had a tough time making the grade.
“I’m happy to have scored so early,” said the Botswana international.
“Now I’m looking for more goals. It was a boost to my confidence, and I’m looking to repay management’s faith in me. I’m still not 100 percent fit, but I’m getting stronger all the time.
“It’s great to play alongside a player like Sibusiso Zuma (who was also on target against Swallows). It’s a honour to play with a player of his calibre – I’ve learnt a lot from him and I’m learning every day.”
Ramatlhakwane scored five goals – all of them match winners, in the African Nations Cup qualifiers, where Botswana twice beat Tunisia to finish top of their group.-Additional report by PSL website