Beaming Jose Riveiro on Nedbank Cup final triumph: We made the Orlando Pirates people happy

Orlando Pirates players celebrate after lifting the Nedbank Cup trophy following their 2-1 win over Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates players celebrate after lifting the Nedbank Cup trophy following their 2-1 win over Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 1, 2024


RULANI Mokwena was left perplexed, unsure what hit him and his Mamelodi Sundowns side after they lost 2-1 to Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup final at Mbombela Stadium yesterday.

Late in the match, when extra time loomed large with the scoreline at 1-1 – after Themba Zwane had given the Brazilians the lead and Patrick Maswanganyi equalised from a penalty that should not have been given – Relebohile Mofokeng scored the winner from inside the box to help the Buccaneers hold on to the title they won last year.

In doing so, Pirates completed a cup double over a Sundowns side outfit they beat in the MTN8 final earlier in the season to deny the runaway DStv Premiership winners a league and cup double.

Mokwena could not hide his shock afterwards. “I still don’t know what happened,” he said during a post-match television interview.

“Football can be cruel sometimes. We miss a penalty; they get a penalty and equalise. Then (they get) a free kick I think should not be going that way,” he said of the set piece that led to Mofokeng scoring from inside the box at Ronwen Williams’ far post for the winner during time added on for stoppages after 90 minutes.

Mokwena begrudgingly congratulated Pirates, saying “we take the lessons and we move on”.

He was evidently heart-broken, the defeat coming as it did just a week after his team suffered their first loss of the league season in the last match of the campaign to Cape Town City.

It was a defeat that saw them miss out on becoming the first team in the history of South African professional football to complete a season unbeaten.

And now this loss to Pirates will no doubt be seen by the rest of the Premier Soccer League clubs as a sign that Sundowns can really be beaten.

For Pirates and their coach Jose Riveiro, this was a sweet victory.

“Just look,” the Spaniard said to the interviewer, pointing at the Pirates fans celebrating in the stands.

“We gave our all, the people were expecting from us. A comeback in a game against Sundowns is not for everyone – they are an excellent team.

“They made us suffer for 90 minutes. We had our moment, we tried our best and we made the people happy.”

Sundowns should have opened the scoring in the first half, but Lucas Ribeiro had his penalty saved by Sipho Chaine.

But then the Brazilian made up for that by setting up Zwane to score from close range.

It was the skipper’s second goal of the season – Mshishi’s other goal having been in the MTN8 quarter-final against Moroka Swallows on August 12.

Pirates then got a penalty – although Maswanganyi clearly went into Aubrey Modiba instead of the latter tripping him – but the referee pointed to the spot, and the Buccaneers star coolly converted by sending Williams the wrong way.

The match appeared set for the 30 minutes of extra time, but Mofokeng slotted home the winner.

‘The Ghost’ duly said thank you very much, leaving Mokwena to wonder what hit him and Sundowns.