Orlando Pirates Retain Nedbank Cup Title

Orlando Pirates have been crowned Nedbank Cup champions once more after beating Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in a dramatic final played at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

Through a sensational comeback reminiscent of their 2023 triumph, the Buccaneers came from behind to clinch victory in the dying moments following a tensely-fought encounter.

Drawn as the away team for the third consecutive game in the competition, they had to contend with a nervy start after finding themselves on the back foot from the first whistle.

Thabiso Monyane was called in to intervene in the second minute when he pulled off a superb block to deny Aubrey Modiba, who had worked himself into space inside the Bucs penalty area.

The hosts had an even better opportunity to pull ahead as Deon Hotto was deemed to have fouled Khuliso Mudau inside the box, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. That chance went a begging, thanks to goalkeeper Sipho Chaine who produced an excellent save to deny Lucas Ribeiro.

Pirates’ first real chance came in the 17th minute following a turnover of possession inside Sundowns territory. Patrick Maswanganyi was on the end of the resultant attack, but could not find a way past Ronwen Williams.

They continued to grow into the game, with Hotto drawing another save from the Brazilians’ shot-stopper with a right-footed shot when he was played through by Monnapule Saleng.

Sundowns meanwhile had a few half chances at the other end where Ribeiro’s shot from range was comfortably dealt with by Chaine. However, the Buccaneers finished the opening half the brighter of the two sides with Evidence Makgopa and Thalente Mbatha each having a go at the home side’s goal, but without affecting the scoreboard.

The visitors had a more controlled start to the second period but lost their defensive shape nine minutes after the restart when Ribeiro snuck behind to set up Themba Zwane, who needed no second invitation as he put the men from Tshwane ahead.

In search of the equaliser, the Buccaneers made several surges into the Brazilians’ half and had an opportunity sparked up by Mbatha who took advantage of the space he found himself in just outside the box to launch a shot that drifted inches wide of the upright.

They didn’t have to wait much longer as a 71st-minute foray into the box resulted in a foul on Maswanganyi, with the referee duly awarding a penalty. He dusted himself to take the spot kick, calmly levelling matters as he sent Williams the wrong way.

The Soweto Giants immediately looked to edge ahead as replacement midfielder Kabelo Dlamini forced Williams into a save with a long-range effort before fellow substitute Tshegofatso Mabasa replicated the feat from inside the box when he connected with Saleng.

It appeared as if the game would go into extra time but another second-half sub provided the decisive moment in the dying moments following a move sparked by Olisa Ndah near the halfway line.

The defender located Saleng on the right flank, with the attacker linking up with Relebohile Mofokeng who ghosted past Bongani Zungu before firing past Williams to put Pirates in the lead with seconds left on the clock.

The final whistle sounded moments later, confirming the Soweto Giants’ claim to a second successive cup double as they added another piece of silverware to the cabinet.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Ndah, Sesane (Sibisi 83’), Maela (Dlamini 72’), Mbatha, Makhaula (Mofokeng 72’), Monyane (Lebitso 60’), Hotto, Saleng, Maswanganyi, Makgopa (Mabasa 60’).

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