Super Eagles defender Olisa Ndah and Black Stars goalkeeper Richard Ofori were 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.
The victory sees Orlando Pirates reclaim the title which they had won at the same venue in 2020, making it their 11th win overall in Top-Eight competition.
From the very first minute, Orlando Pirates were forced to shuffle things around after defender Nkosinathi Sibisi had to be withdrawn due to a calf injury following a challenge from Gabadinho Mhango.
That proved to be the theme for much of the first half, which consisted of many injury stoppages and limited clear-cut chances at goal for either side.
The Buccaneers did however went close on 12 minutes with Thabiso Monyane curling a ball in towards goal, which almost snuck in under the crossbar and was kept out by a fine save from AmaZulu keeper Veli Mothwa.
Ofori’s goal came under threat for the first time in the 21st minute when Mhango made a run on the left flank and was halted by an excellent sweeping clearance from Tapelo Xoki.
The decisive moment came four minutes later and it was from a set-piece situation, where Monnapule Saleng went direct from a tight angle and found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
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.
Usuthu came out from the tunnel with some purpose in search of the equaliser, and Xoki was on hand to make another vital stop as he came between Lehlohonolo Majoro and what looked like a sure goal in the 49th minute.
Orlando responded by pushing forward, with Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo freeing himself up for a shot from range and only succeeding in finding Mothwa’s gloves.
Most of the action in the second period was in the Bucs half, with the majority of the visitors’ chances coming from set-pieces.
Ofori was in top form, diving low to his left to keep out a header from Mbongeni Gumede in the 58th minute before denying the same player ten minutes later.
AmaZulu kept peppering the Pirates goal, but resolute defence kept the Soweto Giants ahead.
Saleng could have doubled the lead five minutes from the final whistle when he emerged from the middle, sending a shot towards Mothwa, who parried the ball into safety.
The rest of the encounter was all about the Buccaneers hanging on, and they did so successfully to take home yet another MTN 8 title.Copyright © 2023 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.