No feeling like cup final week says Maritzburg’s Shandu

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Versatile Maritzburg United midfielder Bandile Shandu has recounted his journey to the Nedbank Cup final 19 months back ahead of the Telkom Knockout final this weekend.

The Team of Choice are readying themselves for the next biggest match in their history when they take on Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa’s version of the League Cup final on Saturday.

Back in May 2018, Maritzburg then faced Free State Stars for the FA Cup crown, but they were left heartbroken.

This time around, they are determined to go all the way and claim a first trophy for the club.

When Maritzburg qualified for the Nedbank Cup final last year, it was the first time the KwaZulu-Natal club had made it to such a stage.

It was a massive feat and the stage itself ultimately proved to be too big for some of their players. They froze and lost 1-0.

However, Shandu, who was an integral part of that team under Fadlu Davids, believes the players have grown from that and the experience will stand them in good stead.

There have been many big occasions for the Pietermaritzburg club since that ill-fated date in Cape Town.

They had three finals to play in the form of the Premier Soccer League’s Relegation/Promotion Play-Offs last season, where they came through with flying colours following a disastrous 2018/19 term.

Arguably their biggest game since was also the TKO semi-finals against Kaizer Chiefs, where they bossed the game and won 2-1 a little over two weeks ago. Now they need to overcome one more hurdle in Sundowns, one of the best in the country, and Shandu knows it will not be easy.

Shandu is also desperate for his team to do it for the fans. As a local boy from the KZN Midlands, he knows what it is like to be supported by United’s Blue Army week-in and week-out.

The Maritzburg fans are amongst the best in the country and they have illustrated that by show of feet, with their Harry Gwala Stadium amongst the most populated in the country every single matchday. Shandu says they owe it to the supporters to win the trophy. Report by Thahir Asmal