Last season Mpumalanga ABC Motsepe League runners-up, Acornbush United, planned to use the inaugural Mpumalanga Transversal Cup as a platform to send a warning to their rivals ahead of the 2016/17 season kick-off.
United will be among the four teams that will contest the tournament to be held at KaMhlushwa Stadium next Sunday. The other three teams are Swaziland’s reigning MTN Premier League champions, Mbabane Swallows, National First Division-bound side, Jomo Cosmos and Mbombela United.
McDonald “Bambino” Makhubedu, Acornbush’s head coach, said his boys were looking forward to contesting against the bestÂ of the best.
“We want to use the tournament to underline our dominance in provincial football. Last season we thought we had clinched the ABC Motsepe League, but some boardroom politics denied us the opportunity to go and represent the province in the play-offs,” said Makhubedu.
Apollo XI was declared as the overall provincial champions after they won four games. Apollo, however, succumbed in the play-offs to Kings United of KwaZulu-Natal, which was promoted to the National First Division.
Makhubedu said his players had been attending a preseason camp for the past three weeks and they will use the tournament as a barometer to gauge their readiness for the coming season.
“We spent five days in a camp in Potchefstroom where we had a chance to play friendly matches against Orlando Pirates and a North West University side that is part of the ongoing Varsity Cup. Both games went pretty well and looking at the boys’ fitness level and readiness, they are promising ahead of the ABC Motsepe League kick-off,” added Makhubedu.
Makhubedu, who once was an assistant coach of Cosmos, said his side plan to win the league in the first round this season to avoid the boardroom squabble that overshadows the Mpumalanga league each season when a team is supposed to go to play-offs.
Nontokozo Lubisi, public relations manager of Infinity Minds, which organises the event, said they were overwhelmed by the support from local government and business people.
“Some of the proceeds of this event will be donated to charity through the Sez Foundation, a local non-governmental organisation which is actively involved in students’ health and welfare projects,” said Lubisi.
Entrance to the games will be R30 and tickets will be available at the gate.