Drama in the Dukwi dust

George Moore

On-the-spot Nico hold their nerve

There was drama in the Dukwi dust on Sunday, Nico United needing penalties to overcome Division One minnows, Dukwi SC and scrape through the opening round of the Orange FA Cup.

Drama in the Dukwi dust

Proving the magic of the cup is still very much alive, followers of both teams flocked to the Dukwi Grounds in impressive numbers, most dreaming of an upset but plenty desperate to avoid one.

Although it was their maiden appearance in the lucrative knockout competition, Dukwi were far from overawed by the occasion, pushing their Premier League opponents all the way in an encounter high in intensity but low on goal-scoring opportunities.

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Indeed, despite his calm pitchside demeanor, Coach, Monametsi ‘Sunday’ Kelebale will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Stephane Mothwalo sent the keeper the wrong way to finally break Dukwi’s resistance and seal a tense shootout 5-4.

Going into the cup clash, Kelebale named a vastly changed side from the team that lost to Police XI in the league last time out, with just five players retaining their places in the starting line-up.

Despite the changes, the Baby Jombies started the game strongly, the fringe players hungry to impress and eager to silence the boisterous home crowd with an early goal.

However, although they dominated the ball, Majombolo, unable to break down the Chilli Boys’ well-drilled defence, were restricted to long range efforts and hopeful crosses.

Their best chance fell to striker, Nigel Mlauzi, midway through the first half, but the Zimbabwean was unable to direct his header on target, nodding wide when he should have scored.

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Otherwise both goalkeepers were relatively untroubled, required to tip a couple of long-range shots over the bar, which they both did expertly.

As the afternoon heat and rock-hard pitch took its toll on the two sides, the energy levels dropped noticeably as the match wore on, meaning the last 20 minutes were a scrappy, nervy affair.

Somewhat inevitably, the game finished goalless; with no extra-time or replays, it meant the tie would be decided by the lottery of a penalty shootout.

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After three perfect pens apiece, Dukwi defender, Aobakwe Batendi, was the unfortunate player to miss, placing his penalty slightly too close to Nico shot-stopper, Thero Seremane, who saved well with his legs.

It proved the game’s defining moment, and a few seconds later, Mothwalo stepped up to calmly break Dukwi hearts and send Nico safely through to the next round.

With 2019 champions, Orapa United up next in the Round of 32, the Phikwe side will need to up their game drastically if they are to realise their ambition of going deep in the tournament.

For Dukwi, the dream is over. Their attention now returns to the league, where they currently sit fourth in the table, 14 points behind runaway leaders, Makungulupeswa FC at the halfway point of the season.

HOW THEY SAW IT

“I’m very proud of my boys. Playing against a Premier League team, they didn’t blink and gave it their all. If a few more decisions go our way, we could have won it in the 90 minutes.

Drama in the Dukwi dust
Casper Elijah

Anything can happen with penalties; sadly it just wasn’t to be for us but we can have no regrets.”

“We expected a tough game and that’s exactly how it turned out. Credit to them, they defended in numbers and made it difficult for us.

Drama in the Dukwi dust
Monametsi Kelebale

These matches you have to find a way to win and we did – the boys who game in acquitted themselves well. Special thanks to our fans for their amazing support, it makes a big difference!

 

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