JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 06: Kermit Erasmus of Orlando Pirates celebrates his goal during the Nedbank Cup semi final match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on May 06, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs in a thrilling Nedbank Cup semifinal played at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

In a cup tie that went to extra time, the Buccaneers triumphed thanks to an unlikely hero in substitute defender Sandile Mthethwa, who headed home the decisive goal six minutes short of the two-hour mark.

The victory is sweet revenge for Pirates, who suffered narrow 1-0 defeats at the hands of the Amakhosi in both of the clubs’ DStv Premiership clashes this season.

The teams traded early half chances, though the pace and incision of Ashley Du Preez seemed to give Chiefs an edge, and they should have claimed the lead in the 13th minute when the attacker teed up Christian Saile in front of goal, only for the latter to completely miss his kick.

Pirates immediately made their rivals pay for the miss, as Miguel Timm put Monnapule Saleng in behind the defence, and the winger stabbed a ball across the six-yard box for Kermit Erasmus to tap home and put the away side 1-0 up in the 14th minute.

Shortly thereafter the Amakhosi almost levelled via Yusuf Maart, who fired off a low drive from outside the box which clipped the outside of Pirates goalkeeper Sipho Chaine’s left-hand post.

The team in gold built up attacking pressure as the first half progressed, but clear chances were hard to come by. Their best arrived in the 38th minute when Dillon Solomons clipped in a cross from the right to pick out Saile, but his diving header skewed wide of the mark.

The half closed with Pirates still 1-0 up, though the Buccaneers were dealt an injury blow when Bandile Shandu had a heavy collision with Reeve Frosler and was replaced by Deon Hotto in injury time.

Chiefs dominated the midfield in the opening phase of the second half, forcing Pirates to withdraw Erasmus and shore up the middle of the park with Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo.

Bucs succeeded in stopping some of their opponent’s momentum, but ultimately Chiefs continued to boss the game and deservedly drew level with just over 10 minutes of regulation time remaining, as Yusuf Maart’s burst from midfield allowed him to get onto a through ball from Solomons and stroke a shot beyond Chaine for 1-1.

Pirates changed their formation and threw on substitutes in the wake of the equalising goal and had a great chance to win the game in regulation time when Bienvenu Eva Nga had a free header in the 89th minute, but he failed to hit the target.

Extra time saw the teams mostly cancel each other out, though Chiefs were the more proactive and should have gone ahead for the first time five minutes into the extra 30 when Frosler whipped in a good cross to pick out Du Preez, but he failed to trouble Chaine in the Pirates goal.

Pirates upped their energy in the second half of extra time and were rewarded in the 114th minute when, in the wake of a corner kick, Ndlondlo whipped in a cross from the left flank and Sandile Mthethwa headed past the left hand of goalkeeper Brandon Petersen to secure a 2-1 triumph.

Pirates will face either Stellenbosch FC or Sekhukhune United (who meet in the second semifinal, at Danie Craven Stadium, on Sunday evening) in the Nedbank Cup final at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday 27 May.

Kaizer Chiefs (0) (1) 1 (Maart 79’)

Orlando Pirates (1) (1) 2 (Erasmus 14’, Mthethwa 114’) – After extra time

Chiefs: Petersen, Frosler, Ngezana, Dove, Hlanti, Solomons (Sekgota 119’), Zwane (Shabalala 64’), Maart, Sithebe, Du Preez, Saile (Bimenyimana 70’)

Pirates: Chaine, Shandu (Hotto 45+3’), Sibisi, Xoki, Mako (Monyane 112’), Monare (Makhaula 83’), Timm, Dlamini (Mthethwa 83’), Saleng, Dzvukamanja (Eva Nga 83’), Erasmus (Ndlondlo 58’)



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