Super Eagles defender Olisa Ndah was in action as Orlando Pirates were crowned MTN 8 (South African Cup) champions for 2022, after claiming a 1-0 win over AmaZulu in the final played in front of a sellout crowd at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
The Buccaneers won the MTN8 for an 11th time (and a second in the past three editions of the tournament) thanks to a first-half strike from Monnapule Saleng, while Usuthu’s wait to end a long silverware drought goes on, with their last major triumph being the Coca-Cola Cup way back in 1992.
Pirates suffered an early blow when Nkosinathi Sibisi had his left shin raked by the studs of Gabadinho Mhango inside the opening 30 seconds. The centre-back was replaced by Paseka Mako in the fifth minute.
The open chances for each team arrived either side of the 10-minute mark, with Olisa Ndah heading over from a corner kick for Pirates, before Larry Bwalya flashed an ambitious shot off target for AmaZulu.
The Buccaneers threatened a goal on 12 minutes when Thabiso Monyane’s lobbed cross-shot was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Veli Mothwa. The shot-stopper was called on again in the 16th minute to keep out a header from Monnapule Saleng, though the attacker had been flagged offside.
Pirates kept up the attacking pressure and were rewarded in the 25th minute when Saleng scored direct from a free kick, with the forward whipping home a left-footed, in-swinging shot from the right flank that really should have been dealt with by Mothwa.
AmaZulu almost drew level at the stroke of halftime when Mhango beat Ofori and was thwarted by Ndah, who scrambled across to make a clearance.
The teams each made a change at the start of the second half, with Pirates’ Monyane replaced by Bandile Shandu, while AmaZulu swapped out striker Augustine Kwem for veteran goal-getter Lehlohonolo Majoro.
The first clear chance after the restart went the way of Bucs, with Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo shooting straight into the arms of Mothwa in the 53rd minute, yet it was AmaZulu who made most of the attacking play up to the hour mark, before they freshened up their forward line with the introduction of Dumisani Zuma.
First silverware of the season ⚫️⚪️💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/IQeuOwENfR
— Olisandah6 (@olisandah6) November 5, 2022
Usuthu were agonisingly close to levelling the game in a frantic passage of play on 64 minutes which saw Majoro’s header crash onto the crossbar, before Thapelo Xoki managed to clear ahead of Zuma on the rebound.
The team in green also had a couple of strong penalty appeals turned down, before Pirates looked to turn the tide of momentum by introducing Vincent Pule in place of Kermit Erasmus for the final quarter-hour of regulation time.
AmaZulu continued to be the team creating the majority of attacking pressure in the dying minutes, though a killer goal on the counter for Pirates also became more and more of a possibility as the Durban side threw men forward – yet neither side was able to capitalise on their openings, leaving the score 1-0 in favour of the Buccaneers at the final whistle.
The teams will both be involved in the revamped Carling Black Label Cup next weekend at FNB Stadium, with AmaZulu facing Mamelodi Sundowns in the first semifinal, and Pirates taking on Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the second semi.
Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Saleng 25’)
Orlando Pirates:Ofori, Monyane (Shandu 46’), Ndah, Sibisi (Mako 5’), Xoki, Timm, Motshwari, Ndlondlo (Dlamini 88’), Hotto, Saleng (Eva Nga 88’), Erasmus (Pule 75’)
AmaZulu:Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Mphahlele (Gumede 32’), Mobara, Hanamub, Makhaula, Bwalya, Maluleka (Ndlovu 81’), Maduna (Brooks 81’), Mhango (Zuma 60’), Kwem (Majoro 46’)