Pirates take home the Nedbank Cup
Orlando Pirates ensured they ended the South African season with at least one trophy after a Kermit Erasmus brace helped them come from a goal down to beat Wits 3-1 in the Nedbank Cup final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Jabulani Shongwe gave the Students a 26th-minute lead in a tempered affair before second-half Erasmus and Sifiso Myeni goals sealed the title for the Buccaneers.
They came into the game under a cloud after having lost three previous finals this season, but made no mistakes the fourth time round to win the match that drew the curtain on the domestic calendar.
Pirates came flying out of the blocks and should have taken the lead inside the opening minute, when the ball was threaded through to Erasmus from midfield. But the striker, who did excellently to turn inside a defender, saw his low shot expertly blocked by Moeneeb Josephs.
The Buccaneers continued to press forward and had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the eighth minute when a Daine Klate free kick caused some panic in the box and the ball appeared to strike the hand of Sboniso Gumede, although referee Zolile Mthetho felt otherwise.
The goal arrived before the half-hour mark, when Sthembiso Ngcobo played a short pass to Shongwe on the left and the former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder took a touch forward before rifling past Senzo Meyiwa.
The Students could have had a penalty in the build-up as Calvin Kadi was sliced down inside the box by Happy Jele.
Wits continued to press forward and Kwanda Mngonyama headed wide not long after, while Thabo Matlaba had a shot from outside the box fly over as Gavin Hunt’s men led at the break.
After the restart, Ngcobo stung the palms of Meyiwa after a quickly taken free kick, before Pirates drew level when Oupa Manyisa escaped down the right and cut the ball back expertly to Erasmus, who thumped it in via a deflection off Mngonyama after 52 minutes.
The response was excellent from Wits as replacement Asive Langwe headed a Sibusiso Vilakazi ball wide at the near post, before Ngcobo forced Meyiwa to tip over after a clever header from a throw-in flew towards the top right-hand corner.
But Pirates then hit them on the break to surge ahead in the 62nd minute as Manyisa managed to squeeze in a low cross from the right that Myeni then converted.
The game threatened to boil over after a flying Phumlani Ntshangase tackle on Klate drew a reaction from the winger and prompted both benches to get involved.
The Wits player ended up with a yellow card for his late lunge.
That seemed to unsettle Hunt’s team and they fell 3-1 behind in the 71st minute when Erasmus squared the ball to the centre of the box and continued his run so that after Manyisa scuffed his shot, the Bafana Bafana forward was on hand to thump it in.
Ryan Chapman and Vilakazi had late chances to pull a goal back, but failed to take them, with Pirates holding on to clinch the title for the eighth time in the club’s history. – Sapa