Football

PIRATES BEAT SUNDOWNS TO RETAIN MTN8 TITLE

Orlando Pirates kept their cool in the penalty shootout to beat Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday to clinch their second successive title.

A solid all-round effort capped by heroics from goalkeeper Sipho Chaine ensured that the Buccaneers retained their title, as they triumphed in the competition for an unprecedented 12th time.

The early part of the contest began tentatively as both sides took a good chunk of the first half to settle into rhythm, despite a few chances at both ends. 

The first of these fell to Sundowns, who surged forward after some miscommunication from the Bucs defence before Chaine intervened with an excellent stop to deny Themba Zwane.

It took 12 minutes for the Buccaneers to conjure up their first real chance and it came via a free kick taken right in front by Thabang Monare, whose shot could not penetrate the defensive wall.

They had another opportunity from a set piece four minutes later with captain Tapelo Xoki stepping up this time around, only to see his effort swinging wide of the target.

Pirates did enjoy a spell of dominance midway through the first half, but clear chances at goal were kept to a minimum.

The best chance in this period came inside the Soweto Giants’ half of the field in the 28th minute when an unmarked Peter Shalulile failed to direct his header from the back post into an open net.

Replacement defender Olisa Ndah came the closest to opening the scoring for Pirates in the closing stages of the first half when he headed towards goal from a tight angle, only succeeding in sending his effort over the crossbar.

Pirates endured an early storm from Sundowns at the start of the second half as they denied them entry into the final third, forcing Teboho Mokoena into a desperate attempt from a long way out in an effort to open the scoring.

Shalulile had another opportunity to put the Tshwane Giants ahead in the 75th minute but fluffed his lines once more, volleying over the crossbar from close range.

The defending champions responded four minutes later through Relebohile Mofokeng who found space to shoot just outside the box, but could only watch as his shot drifted wide.

There were a couple of close calls late in the second half, both in the Bucs penalty area where Chaine managed to pull off some excellent saves to keep the game scoreless.

Monnapule Saleng provided the last act of the opening 90 minutes, running into a perfectly weighted pass from Kermit Erasmus before sending his shot into the side netting.

The first period of extra time went by without much incident, as both sets of defenders kept things tight at the back.

The pattern continued until the last two minutes of open play as Junior Mendieta had the ball in the back of the net, only to be flagged offside. The full-time whistle sounded soon after, sending the final into the lottery of a shootout.

That proved to be the perfect stage for Chaine who kept out Bongani Zungu’s shot from the spot, repeating the feat twice more to deny Mendieta and Mokoena, while Deon Hotto and Lesedi Kapinga converted to put Pirates two goals up.

Xoki then sent his spot kick off target before Mothobi Mvala put Sundowns on the board, and it was Karim Kimvuidi who converted what turned out to be the final penalty, leaving Williams rooted to the spot as the Buccaneers clinched their third MTN8 title in the last four seasons.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Sibisi (Ndah 34’), Shandu, Hotto, Monare, Timm (Baloni 100’), Saleng, Maswanganyi (Kimvuidi 71’), Lepasa (Mofokeng 71’), Erasmus (Kapinga 100’).

SOURCED FROM THE CLUBS’ WEBSITE.

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