Mamelodi Sundowns have been crowned Champions of the Nedbank Cup 2022, beating Marumo Gallants 2-1 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Masandawana and Gallants could not be separated in an enthralling showpiece full of free-flowing attacking football and took the game into extra time. An end-to-end encounter was ultimately decided after 120 minutes of extra-time, the Tshwane giants snatched the Cup in the final moments to complete a domestic clean sweep in the 2021/22 Premier Soccer League campaign.
Gallants’ goalkeeper Washington Arubi was the first to be called into action early in the battle as Gaston Sirino superbly took a shot outside the 18 area on target. A frantic display of action played out for both sides with high energy going at one another in search for the lead.
Another goalscoring chance fell at the feet of Thabiso Kutumela for Bafana Ba Style, however the 28-year-old striker was unable to control the ball in time to take a shot. Opportunities came knocking for The Brazilians, with Sirino, who broke free after an error at the back from Gallants’ defenders and put the ball at the back of the net. Sirino’s goal was disallowed after the referee called for a foul in the build up to the goal.
At the other end of the pitch, a battle was brewing between Joseph Malongoane and Khuliso Mudau on the right side of the pitch. Malongoane’s efforts to get the ball past Downs’ defense was blocked as the men in Yellow T-shirts stood firm and took Gallants out of possession. Andile Jali superbly released the ball to Peter Shalulile who wasted no time in taking a shot, but his efforts were blocked by Lehlohonolo Nonyane.
Masandawana continued to rotate the ball with efforts to penetrate the defense, after 30 minutes of play, it was Sirino who put in the extra work to win the ball at the back and spotted Shalulile in the box. Sirino’s cross to Shalulile was enough for the Namibian international to find the opening goal in the encounter and put the yellow nation on the front foot after beating Arubi to the ball.
The Brazilians seemed to have found their rhythm as half time approached, Jali took charge of the midfield battle, while Sirino applied pressure on the defenders. The Uruguay international striker took another chance at Arubi, but this time his effort at goal went over the goalposts. Gallants’ also showed up and put up a fight, Katlego Otladisa’s header went inches past Kennedy Mweene’s top post.
Sundowns was forced to make substitutions before the break, Brian Onyango made his way off the field for Mosa Lebusa as the two teams entered the break with a 1-0 lead for Masandawana.
Two minutes into the second period, Zambian shot-stopper Kennedy Mweene was called into action early on, as Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo tried to pull one back for his team. Mweene got down to make a comfortable save from the low shot on target for Gallants.
Sirino slid one in for Kutumela through a cutback, but the Limpopo born star could not get his shot on target. Another cutback play to Lebohang Maboe looked promising, but Bafana Ba Style were not in luck to extend their lead just yet.
Changes were made again for Masandawana after 65 minutes of play time, Themba Zwane, Sphelele Mkhulise were introduced in place of Kutumela and Zwane. Thapelo Morena and Bradley Ralani featured later in the game after 90 minutes to replace Maboe and Neo Maema.
Marumo Gallants’ super sub, Junior Dion put the Limpopo based team back in the clash. Dion came in for Gallants and within a few minutes struck at goal with a sensational header and the game was level once again.
The Tshwane giants had to dig deep to find their way to victory, Shalulile saw his effort go inches past Arubi’s goalposts and it was clear that the game would go into extra time. A scramble in Gallants’ box as the defenders looked to clear the ball, saw Morena’s shot, after receiving a pass from Zwane in the dying moments of the final hook to the back of the net. Bafana Ba Style closed the chapter with a 2-1 victory to clinch a domestic treble.
This is how we lined up: