Vasco Da Gama have an opportunity to make the quarter-finals of the lucrative Nedbank Cup- an achievement that would bring with it much needed media attention for the National First Division (NFD) club and a healthy R400 000 winfall.
To get there, though, Vasco face a though hurdle in trying to overcome fellow-NFD side Maluti FET College in the round of 16 at Parow Park on Saturday afternoon (kick off 3pm).
The Parow-based side’s coach Tony de Nobrega describes the occasion as “massive”.
“It’s a great opportunity for both clubs to make the quarter finals,” said De Nobrega. “And for lower-tier teams that is massive. It’s a cup game, so there will be no favourites. We are certainly not taking Maluti lightly. They will be motivated. In the league competition, we beat them home and away, but both games weren’t easy. They are a hard-running, fit team, and they are always competitive.
“The fact that they are toward the basement of the NFD standings means nothing. Maluthi come off a draw against in-form Black Leopards, so they will be in good spirits and confident.
“But we are up for the game as well. It’s a chance to get through to the quarters and the squad is looking forward to it.”
The Nedbank Cup is based on the popular English FA Cup, which provides lower division teams with the opportunity to test their skill and talent against top flight opposition.
So far, Vasco have avoided any of the Premier Soccer League clubs, but a place in the quarter- finals will, more than likely, present the NFD club with such a scenario. And that would present a chance to pull off a surprise. Firstly, though, they have to get to the next stage of the competition.
For Vasco, loan signing Stanly Muihond has been in great goal-scoring form- and De Nobrega will be looking for another influential performance from the 22-year-old.
“We’ve had on loan from SuperSport United for the last two seasons and he’s going well,” said the Vasco coach.
“He’s got three goals in the last few games, and he’s looking good.”
Over the weekend, Vasco drew1-1 with Grassy Park-based Milano United in the league, with Muishond getting the Parow club’s goal.
“I thought on balance of play against Milano, we shaded it, and should have taken the three points,” said De Nobrega. “We even scored an own goal for Milano to get the point.
But that has been our problem all season. We’ve left too many points on the field, in games we should have won.”
While the Cup game obviously takes centre stage for Vasco this week, De Nobrega stressed that, in the league, they had, not yet, given up, even though they are currently in a mid-table position on the NFD standings.
“We won’t give up on challenging for a place in the promotion play-offs, as long as it is still mathematically possible. With eight games to go, there are still 24 points to play for… it can be done. In this league, as you saw with Cape Town All Stars, if you put together a five-match winning run, you can quickly move up the league table. So we aren’t throwing in any towels just yet, we’ll keep plugging away”.
From Cape Argus by Rodney Reiners