Orlando Pirates star Relebohile Mofokeng showed he had the best moves in Nedbank Cup final

Relebohile Mofokeng takes in the adulation of the fans after scoring the winner for Orlando Pirates against Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: BackpagePix

Relebohile Mofokeng takes in the adulation of the fans after scoring the winner for Orlando Pirates against Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 2, 2024


MBOMBELA: Relebohile Mofokeng proved that “no stage is too big for one to dance on” after guiding Orlando Pirates to their biggest win – and party – of the season last night.

The 19-year-old scored a stoppage-time winner to help Pirates win the Nedbank Cup, beating rivals Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in the final at Mbombela Stadium.

It was a class act from Mofokeng that saw the Sea Robbers cruise to a cup double this season, having also beaten Sundowns, albeit via penalties, in the MTN8 final.

Mofokeng proved again to his naysayers why he deserved his maiden Bafana Bafana call-up for the coming World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe later this month.

His teammates worshipped him after the game, with Evidence Makgopa hoisting him high in the celebrations after he provided a defining moment for their season at such a tender age.

Coach Jose Riveiro also continued to endear himself to the hearts of “The Ghost”, who’ve now tasted back-to-back cup doubles – the most recent trophy coming against the champions of the land.

Sundowns were crowned the DStv Premiership champions for a record-extending seventh time in a row a few weeks ago, making them the team to beat.

But in their contest with Pirates, which needed the best dancers for the biggest party of the season – given how this match panned out – Mofokeng showed he had the best moves.

Last night’s sold-out clash proved to be a dream party for Pirates, while sponsors Nedbank backed up the euphoria by firing off flares and fireworks before and after the game.

But with all the delays, which included a 15-minute late start due to fans still streaming in, and Sipho Chaine’s net needing fixing, it seemed the party would never start.

But boy, when it finally did get underway, it duly lived up to the hype – the only blemish of the first half was the fact that neither goalkeeper collected the ball from the back of the net.

After all, there’s no party without a blunder, leading to one asking themselves what went wrong after vowing to enjoy the night seamlessly.

Referee Sikhumbuzo Gasa, responsible for ensuring there was peace and harmony, and that everyone adhered to the rules of the party, had his work cut out for him as early as the sixth minute.

Gasa judged that Deon Hotto had impeded Khuliso Mudau unlawfully inside the box, before awarding a penalty to Sundowns.

Lucas Ribeiro stepped up, hoping to give Masandawana an early advantage, but Chaine guessed well to block the shot with his leg and punch away the rebound.

This sent the Pirates fans – who outnumbered “The Yellow Nation” – into a frenzy, especially after the Brazilians looked to samba their way into an early lead.

Pirates joined the dance floor too, thereafter, except they were moving in cohesion – either going out in defence or on attack.

Their exploits nearly paid dividends twice, but both Hotto and Patrick Maswanganyi’s shots were brilliantly stopped by Ronwen Williams.

It was a hard party for any of the main characters to leave, with Mudau needing his shoulders to be heavily strapped after injuring himself multiple times.

The Bafana right back was so brave he even returned for the second half, while Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena replaced Grant Kekana with Junior Mendieta on the dance floor.

That was an offensive move by Mokwena, but it would take a “real” Brazilian to swing the party Sundowns’ way soon thereafter.

Ribeiro samba’d his way into the box, sitting down Pirates captain Innocent Maela in the process, before setting up his own skipper Themba Zwane, who slotted home.

That stunned the watching Ghost momentarily, forcing Jose Riveiro to launch onto the dance floor with what he thought would be his trump card, Tshegofatso Mabasa.

However, it would be Pirates’ biggest dancer of the season that levelled the score, albeit via a dubious call from Gasa.

Maswanganyi swung inside the box, trying to turn, but such was his confusing act, Gasa awarded him a penalty wrongfully.

Maswanganyi dusted himself off to send Williams the wrong way, igniting a sense of belief in the Pirates fans, who cheered them on with every act.

And boy, it was the team’s young gem who was able to dust off the pressure of this stage to dance his team to their biggest win of the season.

Mofokeng showed nerves of steel, nutmegging Bongani Zungu inside the box before slotting past Williams to send the stadium into a frenzy.