Aces tap into the unknown

Bottom-of-the-PSL Mpumalanga Black Aces are bracing themselves for a stern challenge from bottom-of-the-Coastal-Stream Hanover Park. The two relegation-threatened teams meet in a Nedbank Cup last 32 match at the Puma Rugby Stadium in Witbank on Saturday afternoon, kick-off at 15h00.

AmaZayoni defender Warren Bishop, drafted into the team midseason, knows a thing or two about playing for a lower division club in the competition, having been part of the all-conquering Tuks side that reached the final in 2010.

Aces, albeit it with a very different-looking team from today’s side, also made it to the final while still a First Division club, where they lost by a single goal to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2009.

Bishop has warned his team-mates to be wary of their Cape opponents on Saturday.

“They will go into the game feeling they have nothing to lose, with no pressure on them.

“Hanover Park will be looking to promote themselves as a team, and as individuals, knowing the spotlight’s on them.

“In Cup competitions, anything can happen. You get a bit of luck and then win one, two games and you’re in the semifinal.

“With the money, bonuses and exposure on hand, we know Park will be tough opponents.

“For us, we are hoping to get a big win and gets some goals, to give us confidence going in to next week’s league match against Free State Stars,” said Bishop.

Denis Masina is the only notable absentee for Aces, who have a near full strength team available for selection.

When asked if a win over Aces would restore flagging confidence to a Hanover Park side that was hammered 4-1 by African Warriors last weekend, coach Johnny Ferreira replied:

“Confidence is the operative word, this is a very big game for us, playing in this prestigious competition.

“We’ll be preparing for this game just as we prepare for our league games. In that regard it made no difference to us if we had been drawn to face Chiefs, Aces or Baroka FC, we’re taking this game very seriously.

“The irony of the match is that Aces are also bottom of their log and will also be looking to gain some momentum and confidence with a good run in the cup,” said Ferreira, a former FC Cape Town and Black Leopards coach.

The Cape side’s potential danger-men include lively winger-cum-striker Danny Bowers, and striker Brent Adonis.

At the back, former Vasco defender Marlon Pitts and his partner in the centre, Craig Jordan, formerly of Santos, will be the men charged with keeping the likes of Mpho Maleka and Myrone Shongwe quiet.