Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Will a first Division team ever win Coca-Cola Cup?

As has always been the case since 1992, the Coca Cola Cup continues to produce upsets. Small teams are always finding ways to send the bigger teams packing. To date, the major upset has been the knocking out of Premier League giants and Coca-Cola Cup record holders, Township Rollers, by First Division side from Kgatleng, Mochudi Buffaloes.
The defeat by Rollers means that the team’s dream to stretch their Coca Cola championships to five has taken a blow and others like Notwane have chances of equaling their record.

Other teams, like Police XI and Mochudi Centre Chiefs, are also standing a better chance of winning the tournament for the first time in their history. Both Police XI and Mochudi Centre Chiefs have never even reached the finals of the Coca-Cola Cup.

After winning both the league championships and the Kabelano charity cup, Centre chiefs are looking forward to winning three trophies in one season. Despite lower division teams always causing dreaded shocks, they never make it to the finals, let alone winning the tournament.

Just like in previous years, many people are eagerly waiting to see whether a First division team will make it to the finals and end up winning the tournament this year.

Since the inception of the tournament 16 years ago, it was only the Ramotswa-based side, Mokgosi Young Fighters, who made it to the finals in 1997.

Mokgosi, then under the tutelage of the well-traveled Ezekiel Mpofu, lost to Notwane 2-0 after fierce finals.
In the game, Mokgosi showed Notwane no mercy as they matched them pound for pound for most part of the game. Mokgosi only relapsed later in the late stages of the game, giving Notwane a chance to wrap it up.

Since then, a lower division team is yet to appear in the finals. It has even proved difficult for First division teams to reach the semi-finals.

Some of the few lower division teams that made it to the semi-finals were Police XI in 1994; they lost to Township Rollers after a penalty shootout. It can be remembered that Police XI trailed by two goals and equalised to force the game into extra time. Police XI then had unknown players like Oliver Pikati, Sergent Lebekwe, Ambrose Ramosweu and Stranger Peloyakgomo.

Orapa Bucks once sneaked into the finals in 1996, but Rollers demolished them 6-2 as they failed to display their good play, as was the case in the previous games.

Before this weekend games, several First division teams had a chance of making it to the quarter finals because they are playing against each other. Whether they will eventually make it to the semifinals and, eventually, the finals is a question being asked by soccer enthusiasts.


Read this week's paper