25 May 2009
After a disappointing season that saw them fail to qualify for the MTN 8, Moroka Swallows showed they could be a dangerous opponent in knockout action when they claimed the 2009 Nedbank Cup title, ending the run of First Division giant-killers Pretoria University 1-0 in the final.
The match also served as the re-opening of Johannesburg’s Rand Stadium, which has been renovated and looked in superb condition for the final. It will be used as a training facility during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
In the lead-up to the big game, Pretoria University, known as AmaTuks, had enjoyed a fairytale path to the final. In the preliminary round, they eliminated fellow First Division side, Jomo Cosmos, who have earned a place in next season’s PSL, by one goal to nil.
In the first round, against Blackburn Rovers, who play in a division lower than Tuks, they won 4-2 after extra time only.
Next, though, the students made waves in the second round when, in a thrilling encounter, they eliminated the Phafeni Glamour Boys, Kaizer Chiefs.
More was to come in the quarterfinals when they accounted for a second PSL club, Bloemfontein Celtic, whom they beat 1-0.
In the semi-finals they were away at Ajax Cape Town, but came away with their third PSL scalp in succession after a 2-1 win.
Swallows, on the other hand, had been mightily impressive on their way to the final, although their chances weren’t talked up that much.
They began with a comfortable 3-1 victory over fellow PSL club Bidvest Wits and followed that up with a 4-0 shellacking of Vodacom League outfit Peace Lovers.
In the quarterfinals, the Dube Birds disposed of Maritzburg United by two goals to nil, and then, in the semi-finals, they beat Black Leopards 2-1.
Heading into the final, many observers felt Pretoria University could go all the way and claim the R6-million prize for winning the Nedbank Cup. After all, they appeared to have momentum on their side, and in their wins over PSL opposition they had also shown the ability to dominate clubs from a higher league.
For Swallows, the 2009 PSL season had been a disappointing one. They finished in eleventh place in the 16-team league and posted a very average record of 10 wins, seven draws and 13 losses.
The Nedbank Cup final thus offered the Birds a chance to atone for a below-par season. They entered the title-decider trying to prove that they are a better team than their league position indicated, while a similar thing could be said for Pretoria University after all their success against PSL opposition in the competition.
Da Silva remembered
Before kick off, there was a moment of silence for former Swallows’ coach Walter Da Silva, who had passed away on Thursday.
Early on in the contest, Mark Haskins, who headed to the US for a trial with the LA Galaxy immediately after the final, tested Tuks’ goalkeeper Siya Mngoma with a header.
The First Division club nearly took the lead shortly after that when Zakhele Ndlovu rocketed a volley past Swallows’ goalie Greg Etafia. His shot beat the Nigerian, but crashed into the post and out of play.
In the 21st minute the Dube Birds hit the front from a free kick. Igor Alves centred the ball and when Mngoma failed to collect the ball after coming out of goal to get it, Vinicius Da Silva made him pay by knocking it into the net.
Mhlonishwa Dlamini came close for Tuks just after the half-hour mark, while a long-range shot by Alves was mishandled by Mngoma, who managed to regain control before a Swallows’ player could make him pay.
Thabo Moleko than managed to rob Etafia of the ball, but the Swallows’ net-minder was saved by Sydney Plaaitjies, who cleared off of his line after Moleko had shot from a narrow angle.
Davi Rancan came close to doubling Swallows’ lead with a long-distance shot that was narrowly wide. He then missed from close range with a header.
Richard Ferreira almost levelled for AmaTuks with a shot from just outside the box. A cross from Ferreira then nearly brought the breakthrough for the students, but Moleko failed to make contact at the back post.
The striker had an opportunity to make amends shortly before the final whistle, but he headed just over the top of goal when he looked odds-on to score.
When the final whistle sounded Moroka Swallows were R6-million rand richer, but a runner-up cheque of R2.5-million for Pretoria University was nothing to sneeze at either.
It was the Birds’ first win in the competition since 2004. They also won it in 1991, 1989, and 1983.
By winning the Nedbank Cup, Swallows have also qualified for next year’s African Confederations Cup.
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