Pirates Secure Nedbank Cup Final Berth

Orlando Pirates marched into the Nedbank Cup final following a 3-1 win in their semifinal clash against Chippa United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

The victory secured the Soweto Giants a spot in the final, which will take place in Mbombela, where they will face the winner of Sunday’s semi between Stellenbosch and Mamelodi Sundowns.

In a fast-paced opening half against the Chilli Boys, the Buccaneers had an opportunity right from the first whistle as they charged forward through Relebohile Mofokeng. The teenager made an excellent run on the left flank before locating Tshegofatso Mabasa, whose close-range effort was blocked.

They remained in the hosts’ half of the pitch where Patrick Maswanganyi was brought down a few paces from the penalty area, with referee Abongile Tom duly awarding a free kick.

The set piece brought about the breakthrough just five minutes in, as Kabelo Dlamini produced a stunner of a shot which curled around the defensive wall and left goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali motionless as it went into the net.

This triggered a spirited fightback from the hosts, who had an opportunity to hit back with a set piece goal from a similar range just two minutes after.

Midfielder Brooklyn Poggenpoel was entrusted with the free kick, but could only send his effort off target as he landed the ball on the roof of the net.

Chippa did not take their foot off the pedal as they continued to dominate the middle part of the opening period, pinning the Buccaneers inside their own half while minimising chances at the other end.

Pirates found a rare attacking opportunity on the half-hour mark when Dlamini threaded a lovely through ball for Mabasa, who had the ball in the net only to be flagged offside.

Sipho Chaine’s goal was tested by ex-Bucs defender Craig Martin in the 38th minute when he went for goal from a long way out, but the shot-stopper was positioned on the perfect spot to make a comfortable save.

The visitors made it 2-0 just before the interval as Maswanganyi caught the Chippa defence flat-footed on the right side of the pitch before locating Dlamini, who calmly slotted home from close range to complete his brace.

A set piece on the stroke of halftime came close to producing the home side’s opener as defender Justice Chabalala flicked the ball towards Chaine’s near post, but the Bucs keeper had it covered as he dived low to his left to make a save.

The start of the second period saw the Buccaneers dominating possession as Mofokeng came close to providing the third when he linked up with Maswanganyi on the left before firing wide with his shot at goal.

The home side’s toil for a goal ended in the 63rd minute when striker Bienvenu Eva Nga muscled his way into the Bucs penalty area before setting up a tap-in from close range for substitute attacker Elmo Kambindu.

The goal from the Namibian international set up a dramatic close to the contest as the Chilli Boys sensed an opportunity to draw level.

It appeared as if the equaliser was not very far off until another decisive moment with just nine minutes left on the clock, brought about by a Pirates corner taken short before Maswanganyi delivered a searching ball into the box, turned in at the far post by Tapelo Xoki who bagged his third goal in this year’s competition.

Chippa had a few half-chances in the dying moments, the best of which came from Chabalala who went wide from range.

They were however unable to claw their way back into the contest as the defending champions closed out the game to book their second consecutive Nedbank Cup final.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Sesame, Monyane, Hotto (Maela 18’), Makhaula, Mbatha (Timm 46’), Dlamini (Sibisi 78’), Mofokeng (Saleng 87’), Maswanganyi, Mabasa (Makgopa 78’).

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