Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates were crowned Carling Black Label Cup champions after they defeated staunch rivals Kaizer Chiefs 6-5 on penalties after the match ended goalless at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
After 90 minutes of play, the match went straight into an enthralling penalty shootout. It was midfielder Thabo Matlaba's spot kick that clinched victory for the Buccaneers after the teams took 18 nail-biting penalty kicks.
Pirates have the edge over their Soweto neighbours in the cup competition, having won three of the four cup games.
During the match, Chiefs' midfielder George Maluleka missed a penalty in the 66th minute after it was rightfully awarded by referee Victor Gomes.
This was after Pirates defender Rooi Mahamutsa fouled winger George Lebese in the penalty box.
With the 90,000-seater stadium packed to capacity with an expectant crowd, the stage was set for the players to deliver an exciting contest, which however ended goalless.
It was the fourth edition of the pre-season cup concept which allows fans to vote for their preferred starting teams.
In the cup's first year in 2011, Pirates were victorious with a 5-4 penalty win after a goalless draw. They retained the title the following year, winning 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Chiefs hoisted the trophy for the first time last year after a 1-0 win courtesy of a goal from mercurial striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who has since joined Pirates and started the match against his former teammates.
Majoro had a futile spell in front of goal as his every touch of the ball was thwarted by Tefu Mashamaite and Eric Mathoho in the Chiefs central defence.
It was initially thought that Majoro would provide his new employers with an advantage against his former side.
Chiefs, likewise, had a new striker in Katlego Mphela spearheading the attack. However, the former Mamelodi Sundowns' sharpshooter had a torrid match and never looked like threatening the goal.
Both Majoro and Mphela were eventually substituted by Lennox Bacela and Josta Dladla respectively before the half-hour mark.
It was evident from the repetitive flow of the game both teams had yet to hit their stride after the off-season.
The match, in many ways, failed to live up to expectations and the players looked lethargic and unfit at times.
For the coaches the match may perhaps have been a preparation game for the new season, but for the fans it was a fierce duel where pride and honour were at stake.
Both sides had a number of forced substitutions after some players picked up injuries. With the new season set to begin next week, both clubs have a lot of work to do before both their campaigns kick off.
Chiefs and Pirates begin their campaigns against Mpumalanga Black Aces and SuperSport United respectively in the MTN8 next week. – Sapa