Pirates down Chiefs, defend MTN 8 title

13 September 2011

For the first time since 1988, Orlando Pirates beat arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in a cup final when they scored a 1-0 victory after extra time in the MTN 8 final at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

It was a successful defence of the title they claimed in October 2010 after a penalty shootout win over Moroka Swallows. The last team to achieve back-to-back titles in the competition was, ironically, their opponents in the final, Chiefs. It was also Pirates’ fourth title won out of the last five on offer.

Eight was the Buccaneer’s lucky number: as winners of the top eight competition for an eighth time, Pirates picked up the winners’ cheque of R8-million.

‘The happiest man in the world’

Following his side’s win, Pirates’ coach Julio Leal said at the post-match press conference: “Tonight, I’m the happiest man in the world, not because we won but because we also played well.

“This is a good start for us this season. It’s good for our confidence level. I think my players played very well, they fought very hard for the whole match. I think today we showed that we are a team that is capable of winning.”

A massive crowd of over 90 000 was subjected to a tepid first half, with neither team really threatening the other’s goal as a deadlocked battle took place in midfield. There were a couple of headed opportunities for both teams, but the goalkeepers dealt with them comfortably.

Control

After the break Pirates started to control the game and defender Siyabonga Sangweni headed narrowly over the crossbar from a corner kick. In the 70th minute a similar opportunity fell Sangweni’s way, but this time Amakhosi goalie Itumeleng Khune stopped Sangweni’s shot. with a smart one-handed save.

In the last 10 minutes Chiefs’ substitute S’thembiso Ngcobo had two chances in quick succession to steal a victory for his side, but Pirates’ net-minder Moneeb Josephs stopped Ngcobo’s first shot with a good save low to his right and the striker was just wide of the mark with his second opportunity, a header from a corner.

With time almost up and extra time beckoning striker Bongani Ndalula looked to have won it for the Buccaneers with a header, but referee Victor Hlungwani controversially decided that Ndalula had pushed Chiefs’ defender Dominic Isaacs and a free kick went the Amakhosi’s way. Television replays suggested that it was a harsh decision.

Winner

Chiefs pushed hard for victory in extra time, but it was Pirates who found the breakthrough, courtesy of midfielder Oupa Manyisa. He struck a long range shot that dipped and bounced awkwardly in front of goalkeeper Khune, who should have stopped it. However, the ball bounced a touch more than he expected and hit the back of the net.

“I’m very happy to score another goal,” Manyisa said afterwards, “but what is important for me is to help the team win trophies. At the moment, I’m enjoying my football. I don’t want to take credit because at the end of the day we are playing as a team.”

Fans of the Soweto giants won’t have to wait long for another derby. The teams meet at the FNB Stadium again on 17 September, but silverware won’t be up for grabs as it is a PSL match.

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