Orlando Pirates are 2023 Nedbank Cup champions
PIC: Orlando Pirates with the 2023 Nedbank Cup trophy
Striker Terrence Dzvukamanja scored a 95th minute winner as Orlando Pirates claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Sekhukhune United following a thrilling final at a sold out Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday.
Sibusiso Vilakazi had put Sekhukhune ahead early on, but Pirates responded before halftime when Thapelo Xoki equalised from the penalty spot.
It looked as though the game would go to extra-time, until Dzvukamanja, who has emerged as a real talisman of the side in recent months, found the winning moment to hand Pirates their third Nedbank Cup title.
It was a fitting end to a hugely entertaining final in which Sekhukhune gave as much as they got and on another day may have come away victorious, but their considerable consolation is the fact they will represent South Africa in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
That is because Pirates had already qualified for the Champions League via their league placing.
“Every game in this competition was the same, thriller after thriller,” Pirates coach Jose Riveiro said. “We spoke just before the warm-up about how strong we were in the last few months. We had extra-time, penalties, and today was one more example.
“We did not play that well if I am honest, but I am not sure if it is possible to play the way we want in a final. The excitement is too high. In the end the quality of the guys solved the problem for us.”
The first shot at goal came from the player with the most strikes in Nedbank Cup finals, Kermit Erasmus, as he thundered down on goal and unleashed a shot from 25-yards that went side. He could not add to his career tally of three in Nedbank Cup deciders.
It was Sekhukhune who opened the scoring on 13 minutes when 33-year-old striker Vilakazi reacted quickest when Pirates failed to clear the ball in their own box and it fell perfectly for him to score.
Pirates almost responded immediately as an initial shot from a tight angle saved by Sekhukhune goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare, before Erasmus’ follow-up shot was cleared off the line and onto the crossbar.
Pirates were level in the dying minutes of the first half after they were awarded a penalty. Sekhukhune’s Victor Letsoalo lay prostrate on the ground in his own box and as he brought his arm out, Pirates’ Thembinkosi Lorch deliberately kicked the ball against it from a foot away.
Referee Thando Ndzandzeka gave the spot-kick and Xoki did the rest from 12 yards.
There was a moment of luck for Pirates 15 minutes into the second half when goalkeeper Sipho Chaine came out to collect a high ball but spilled it and he was relieved when the ensuing shot went wide.
Both sides had chances after that, but the game looked to be heading for an extra 30 minutes until Pirates found their winner.
The revival of Dzvukamanja’s career in recent months has been remarkable and he won the game in the 95th minute with a well-taken goal.
Credit Monnapule Saleng for the assist as he volleyed the ball into the six-yard box, but Dzvukamanja still had lots to do to finish.
He did not panic and deftly touched the ball into the far corner for the winning moment, to send the majority of the capacity crowd into raptures.
“It was a good final for the supporters and a good advert for Nedbank,” a disappointed Sekhukhune coach Brandon Truter said. “I am extremely proud of the boys with the strides we have made this season. I can’t be bitter about this result, I am sure there will be other finals.
“I can’t ask more from the players, they are very coachable, and you cannot ask for more than that. It is not a good feeling, but we learn from it. Congratulations to Orlando Pirates, it has been a fantastic season for them.”
Pirates follow up their trophy wins in 2011 and 2014 with this year’s trophies, which makes up for back-to-back defeats in the final to SuperSport United in 2016 and 2017.
This was Sekhukhune’s first major final, but they will no doubt be back again having shown their tremendous talent this season.
Stellenbosch FC forward Iqraam Rayners finishes with the 2023 Golden Boot following his six goals.
There were 96 goals scored in the 31 games during this campaign, a very healthy average of 3.10 per match.
2023 NEDBANK CUP FINAL
Orlando Pirates 2 (Xoki 45’pen, Dzvukamanja 90’) Sekhukhune United 1 (Vilakazi 13’)
Matches Played: 31
Goals Scored: 96
Biggest Victory: Sekhukhune United 6 Liver Brothers 0 (February 8, Last 32)
Most Goals in a Game: 9 – TS Galaxy 3 Stellenbosch FC 6 (March 12, Last 16)
6 goals – Iqraam Rayners (Stellenbosch FC)
5 – Peter Shalulile (Mamelodi Sundowns)
3 – Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Kgomotso Mosadi (Casric Stars)
2 – Ashley du Preez (Kaizer Chiefs), Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates), Rodrick Kabwe (Sekhukhune United), Yusuf Maart (Kaizer Chiefs), Rhulani Manzini (Venda Football Academy), Levy Mashiane (Royal AM), Vusimuzi Mncube (Sekhukhune United), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Chibuike Ohizu (Sekhukhune United), Masilake Phohlongo (TS Galaxy)
1 – Mumuni Abubakar (Casric Stars), Diego Appollis (Chippa United), Francis Baloyi (Polokwane City), Caleb Bimenyimana (Kaizer Chiefs), Chumani Butsaka (Cape Town Spurs), Daniel Cardoso (Sekhukhune United), Edmore Chirambadare (Venda Football Academy), Andre de Jong (Stellenbosch FC), Siyabonga Dubula (Pretoria Callies), Kenneth Dupane (Tornado FC), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates), Pule Ekstein (AmaZulu), Revaldo Fox (Dondol Stars), Michael Gumede (AmaZulu), Etiosa Ighodaro (Chippa United), Ibraheem Jabaar (Stellenbosch FC), Mario Katz (Tornado FC), Letsie Koapeng (Marumo Gallants), Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Victor Letsoalo (Sekhukhune United), Sphiwe Mahlangu (TS Galaxy), Bonginkosi Makanya (Mpheni Home Defenders), Katleho Makateng (Richards Bay), Lesego Manganyi (Royal AM), Nkosephayo Mavundla (Mpheni Home Defenders), Tebogo Makungo (Dondol Stars), Yaimil Medina (TS Galaxy), Junior Mendieta (Stellenbosch FC), Gabadinho Mhango (AmaZulu), Elias Mokwana (Sekhukhune United), Relebogile Molefe (Dondol Stars), Kholofelo Monama (Dondol Stars), Therlo Moosa (Cape Town Spurs), Tashreeq Morris (Sekhukhune United), Judas Moseamedi (Marumo Gallants), Sandile Mthethwa (Orlando Pirates), Ricardo Nascimento (Royal AM), Siyabonga Nhlapo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Nkosi (Casric Stars), Bongo Ntuli (AmaZulu), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Chippa United), Boitumelo Pheko (Marumo Gallants), Colin Ryan (Cape Town Spurs), Christian Saile (Kaizer Chiefs), Monnapule Saleng (Orlando Pirates), Kamogelo Sebelebele (TS Galaxy), Kagiso Selemela (Magesi FC), Nkateko Shilenge (Mpheni Home Defenders), Vusi Sibiya (Stellenbosch FC), Theko Thakho (FC Blackcross), Tebogo Thangwane (Marumo Gallants), Devon Titus (Stellenbosch FC), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Sekhukhune United), Thapelo Xoki (Orlando Pirates), Nkanyiso Zungu (Richards Bay)
Own goals – Lee Langeveldt (Stellenbosch FC), Thabo Matlaba (Royal AM), Kamogelo Mogaswa (Pretoria Callies), Bulelani Nikani (Polokwane City)