Sandile Mthethwa’s extra-time winner sinks Kaizer Chiefs and sends Orlando Pirates into Nedbank Cup final

Orlando Pirates’ Sandile Mthethwa celebrates after scoring the winning goal during their Nedbank Cup semi-final against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates’ Sandile Mthethwa celebrates after scoring the winning goal during their Nedbank Cup semi-final against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published May 6, 2023


Johannesburg — This might not be Orlando Pirates’ defining moment, but it marked the importance of knowing when to unleash your revenge against an eternal enemy.

The Sea Robbers sailed to the Nedbank Cup final after beating Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in extra time of the semi-final at a sold out FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

And having lost the five successive derbies in a row, Pirates pulled their revenge when it mattered the most as they are on the brink of their second successive trophy in a row after already winning the MTN8.

Their back-to-back losses in the DStv Premiership against Chiefs are also notwithstanding as Pirates are still on course to finish as runners-up. They hold the coveted spot with a six-point cushion over Chiefs.

For Chiefs, though, the trophy-less run boiled over to eighth successive season, while the chance of saving the season solely lie on finishing third, a spot they’ll challenge for with SuperSport United in the last two games.

Regarded as the biggest sporting event in the SA, emotions flared up from start to finish in this game where kickoff was delayed by 15 minutes due to fans who were pouring into the arena.

While it took Sandile Mthethwa's header to divide the two arch-rivals after extra time, both teams stuck to the script, going toe-to-toe, in the first half - as Pirates went into the break ahead.

The only blemish iof the first half was when Bandile Shandu had to be stretched off the pitch heavily strapped after a collision with Reeve Frosler resulted in him being concussed in the closing stages of the half.

With Pirates going into the break ahead, they were meeting the lofty expectations of being the favourites following their eight-game purple patch in all competitions coming here.

Coach Jose Riveiro had also stressed prior to this match that they had to do everything to win the game, following their five-game losing streak in the derby. And they did!

And with a fully-fledged team, including the return of players who were rested against Royal AM on Wednesday afternoon, Pirates landed the first punch.

Monnapule Saleng stayed on his feet inside the box before acres firing a timid shot that Brandon Petersen should have saved comfortably instead of passing it to the path of Kermit Erasmus.

Erasmus duly welcomed the gift as he passed the resultant rebound into the empty net to shut up the home supporters who had booed Pirates since warm-up.

That goal also served as the punishment for Chiefs who moments earlier had a chance to score when Christian Saile miskicked a sitter following a defence-splitting, diagonal, pass from Ashely Du Preez.

Granted Chiefs went into the break behind, but the dominance they showed after going behind was deserving of a goal.

Yusuf Maart also had a hard and lot shot sail inches wide of the targets, while Siyabonga Ngezana’s curling effort sailed into the stands before Saile’s diving header went wide of the target.

The powder that a Pirates’ official sprinkled in both goals at half-time didn’t yield result in terms of the teams finding a two-goal cushion, instead ‘it might have helped’ in them not conceding early on.

Chiefs returned with so much vagour from the break that they should have equalised in the opening stage as Du Preez was also through on goal only for Sipho Chaine to make a timeless recovery.

With the clock winding down, Chiefs finally replied from a familiair source Yusuf Maart who scored his second goal of the season against his former club.

Against the run of play, Dillan Solomons waved into Pirates box, unleashing a pass behind the defence which forced Chaine to commit as Maart slid first to drill the ball into an empty net.

Deep in extra-time, though, Mthethwa came off the bench to head Pirates into the final – at Loftus Versfeld Stadium against Sekhukhune United or Stellenbosch.


IOL Sport