30 May 2011
Orlando Pirates made history on Saturday when they came from behind to beat Black Leopards 3-1 in the final of the Nedbank Cup at Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium. The title was the Buccaneers’ third of the season, making them the first club in the PSL era to achieve the feat.
If Leopards had won, they would have made history too as the first First Division team to win the Nedbank Cup, but like Mpumalanga Black Aces in 2008 and Pretoria University in 2009, they came up short.
A Leopards win looked on the cards for quite a while, though, after they took the lead on an own goal by Rooi Mahamutsa early in the second half. Like champions, Pirates responded and found the back of the net three times in the final 18 minutes to seal victory.
It was sweet success for the Sea Robbers’ coach Ruud Krol, who is out of contract with the club. Sapa reports that the players have rallied around the former Dutch star and asked the Pirates’ management to grant him an extension.
It has been quite a season for Krol, who has often born the brunt of the Pirates’ supporters’ frustrations. Now they have little to complain about, barring the possible loss of the coach, after the club landed the PSL title and the MTN 8 title earlier in the season.
Captain Lucky Lekgwathi told Sapa: “Me personally, I have benefited a lot under Krol as coach and I think it’s because I’m a defender and he also was a defender in his playing days.”
In front of a vibrant, packed crowd, Pirates took charge of the match in the early going, but for all their dominance and control they failed to create many chances.
The only chance of real concern for Leopards came after a mistake by defender Simphiwe Vezi, which allowed Bongani Ndulula a shot from close range. Goalkeeper Azwindini Maphaha was up to the challenge, however.
Slowly, Leopards came more into the contest and began to threaten the Buccaneers on the break, with Robert Ng’ambi asking questions of the PSL team’s defenders.
Just before half-time, Ng’ambi had a good opportunity to put his side in front after good work by midfielder Raymond Monama, but goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa denied him.
Nine minutes into the second stanza, Leopards took a shocking lead. Mongezi Bobe tried his luck from a free kick just outside the penalty area. The ball took a couple of deflections, leaving Meyiwa with no chance as it found its way past him and into the Pirates’ net.
The setback served as motivation for the Buccaneers and they came back strongly to take the game to Leopards with a vengeance. The equaliser was 18 minutes in coming, but there was an inevitability that it would come.
Isaac Chansa, the scorer of the vital winning goal in Pirates’ final PSL outing, which clinched the title, was on hand to finish off the move after being set up by Thulasizwe Mbuyane.
Only three minutes later, it was Mbuyane grabbing the spotlight. He netted a diving header after a cross from Andile Jali had fortuitously rebounded off the corner of the woodwork where the crossbar and upright meet. His goal put the Soweto giants into a 2-1 lead.
The PSL team was well and truly in charge by this time and they kept forcing the pace until they were rewarded just before the finish once again.
Leopards, dispirited and down a man after midfielder Moses Kwena had been given his marching orders for dissent, conceded a third goal in the 89th minute as Mbuyane finished with style to put an exclamation mark on Pirates’ treble-winning season.
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