Pirates complete dramatic comeback in Nedbank Cup final

Pirates complete dramatic comeback in Nedbank Cup final
Orlando Pirates winners of the 2023 Nedbank Cup final match between Orlando Pirates and Sekhukhune United FC at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on 27 May 2023 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Saturday May 27, 2023. 20:20

It took a 94th minute winner from Orlando Pirates attacker Terrence Dzvukamanja for the Soweto giants to claim a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sekhukhune United in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday evening.

The game commenced at a rapid pace, with both teams showcasing their attacking impetus. While Orlando Pirates applied pressure with early possession of the ball, Sekhukhune looked to exploit the Buccaneers in transition moments.

Babina Noko took the lead in the 12th minute of the match, after capitalizing on a series of errors inside the Bucs penalty area. On hand to collect a loose ball inside the area, Sibusiso Vilakazi’s calm finish to the goalkeeper’s left opened the scoring.

After conceding, Pirates injected urgency into their game play and immediately went on the attack in search of an equalizer.

With 20 minutes of football played, Pirates came close to opening their account as a sequence of brave defending saw Sekhukhune block numerous attempts at goal inside the 18-yard-area. Babina Noko were then reduced to defending their own quarters, as Pirates began to string passes together.

Pirates continued to see more of the ball as the half hour mark approached, with Sekhukhune covering more ground than their opponents in attempting to win the ball back.

The Soweto giants drew level on the stroke of half-time after the referee spotted an infringement inside the Sekhukhune box. In stepping up to the spot, Tapelo Xoki calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.

Pirates got the subsequent 45 off on the front foot and created numerous goalscoring opportunities inside the first 10 minutes of the half. The likes of Kermit Erasmus and Thabang Monare found themselves in favourable positions inside the Sekhukhune half but failed to make the most of their chances.

Sekhukhune dominated play after the hour mark and saw up to 73% of the ball in the possession count. However, coach Brandon Truter’s side struggled to create any notable goal scoring opportunities at the time.

With their foot on the gas pedal, Sekhukhune played a large chunk of the second-half inside the Pirates quarters. In finding spaces on the right-hand flank, Elias Mokwana led the Babina Noko charge in looking to breach the Bucs defence.

Nonetheless, it was Pirates who had the last say after taking the lead in the 94th minute. Following a swift passing move inside the Sekhukhune half, Monnapule Saleng’s cleverly squared ball into the small box was found by Terrence Dzvukamanja , who guided the ball home with the slightest of touches.

It was not to be for Sekhukhune as Pirates were crowned Nedbank Cup champions at Loftus Versfeld.

Orlando Pirates: (1) 2 (Xoki 46’ Dzvukamanja 94’)

Sekhukhune United: (1) 1’ (Vilakazi 12’)

Pirates: Chaine, Monyane (Maela 77’), Sibisi, Xoki, Mako, Saleng (Hotto 99’), Monare (Ndlondlo 78’), Timm, Lorch, Erasmus (Dlamini 82’), Dzvukamanja (Eva Nga 98’)

Sekhukhune: Sangare, Ntiya –Ntiya, Cardoso, Gyimah, Mobbie, Seabi (Mncube 45’), Mokotjo, Vilakazi (Mahlangu 62’), Letsoalo (Mabasa 98’), Mokwana (Morris 82’), Ohizu

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