Orlando Pirates clinch treble
Nelspruit - Orlando Pirates completed a remarkable treble triumph by defeating Black Leopards 3-1 to win the Nedbank Cup at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Isaac Chansa saw the Buccaneers overcome a spirited challenge from Lidoda Duvha.
Bucs are the first team in the PSL era (1996/97 onwards) to win three major trophies in a season (they had already claimed the MTN8 and Absa Premiership crowns) and the first to do so in South African football since Kaizer Chiefs in 1992.
Pirates previously won a treble back in 1975.
As for Leopards, they followed in the recent footsteps of Mpumalanga Black Aces (2008) and University of Pretoria (2009) as First Division teams who lost in the Nedbank Cup final against top flight opposition.
Pirates started the stronger of the two teams and dominated possession in the first 20 minutes. However, the only clear cut chance they created in the first half came from a mistake by Leopards defender Simphiwe Vezi, who handed Bongani Ndulula a close range opportunity that was well saved by goalkeeper Azwindini Maphaha.
After that missed opportunity for the Buccaneers, Leopards seemed to grow in confidence and looked fairly threatening whenever they broke forward on the counter attack. Robert Ng'ambi was particularly difficult for Pirates to deal with; the Lidoda Duvha skipper combined well with the likes of Mongezi Bobe and Khethokwakhe Masuku, operating effectively between the midfield and lone striker Rodney Ramagalela.
Midfielder Raymond Monama also proved a handful and he created the best chance of the first 45 minutes by gliding past two challenges before unselfishly feeding Ng'ambi, but the Leopards no 10 was unable to beat Senzo Meyiwa with a low, left-footed shot.
For Pirates, Tlou Segolela saw a lot of the ball and seemed to have the beating of Leopards right-back Moses Kwena. However, like his teammates, the flying winger looked short of the incisiveness needed to break down a stubborn Lidoda Duvha backline.
Nine minutes after the interval, Leopards stunned their top flight opponents by taking the lead. Midfielder Mongezi Bobe shot at goal from a free kick just outside the penalty area; the ball took a couple of deflections, the last off centre-back Rooi Mahamutsa, and found its way into the back of the net.
The goal stunned Pirates into life and they began to overrun Leopards' midfield, who seemed to have exhausted themselves after their first half efforts. An equaliser seemed inevitable and it arrived in the 72nd minute, with Isaac Chansa sweeping the ball home after good set-up play by Thulasizwe Mbuyane.
Just three minutes later the turnaround was complete, as Mbuyane put Pirates ahead for the first time. The attacker headed home from close range, reacting quickest to a looping Andile Jali cross that rebounded off the top of the far post after a misjudgment from the unfortunate Maphaha.
Mbuyane added a beautifully-taken goal to make it 3-1 in the 89th minute, thought not before Leopards' day went from bad to worse when Kwena was shown a straight red card for dissent toward referee Harry Lekitlane.
Black Leopards (0) 1 (Mahamutsa og 54’)
Orlando Pirates (0) 3 (Chansa 72’, Mbuyane 75’ 89’)
Leopards: (4-2-3-1) Maphaha; Kwena, Vezi, Mabusela, Tshabalala; Mabunda (Manaka 79’), Monama (Lungu 88’); Bobe, Ng’ambi, Masuku (Maake 82’); Ramagalela
Pirates: (4-2-3-1) Meyiwa; Jele, Johannes, Mahamutsa, Lekgwathi; Jali, Manyisa; Mbuyane, Chansa, Segolela (Ngobei 88’); Ndulula (Mayambela 62’)
Referee: Harry Lekitlane
Cautions: Tshabalala; Jali
Dismissal: Kwena 84’