Orlando Pirates lifted the 2023 MTN8 trophy after beating Mamelodi Sundowns in a penalty shootout after it ended goalless after 120 minutes at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday evening.
It was a sold-out and electric atmosphere at the Durban stadium, with fans making their way into the ground from early in the afternoon. By kickoff at 6pm, it was packed to the rafters.
While it started off as a bright sunny day in KwaZulu-Natal, the wind picked up, and it was blowing in Pirates’ favour in the first half.
It was Sundowns with the first real opportunity in the fifth minute as Peter Shalulile raced onto a stray pass before setting up Themba Zwane, but Sipho Chaine raced off his line and made a good save at the feet of the Brazilians’ captain.
Ronwen Williams almost handed Pirates an excellent chance in the 10th minute, as he gifted them an indirect kick inside the box, but Thapelo Xoki’s effort struck the wall.
Pirates had another free kick in the 16th minute, but this time Xoki’s effort flew wide and high. Two minutes later Teboho Mokoena’s effort at the other end was deflected wide.
There was a lengthy injury delay as Mothobi Mvala and Nkosinathi Sibisi needed to be treated, with the former needing his head bandaged.
Bandile Shandu made a good break down the right in the 24th minute, but Rivaldo Coetzee was on hand to intercept his cross and clear it from danger.
Shalulile looked certain to score in the 28th minute as a L found him at the back post but his attempt flew over Chaine’s goal.
Unfortunately Sibisi was unable to stay on the pitch and he was replaced by Olisa Ndah in the 33rd minute.
Pirates though began to put on some pressure, but three successive corners failed to deliver any outcome.
While the first half was exciting, it was perhaps the wind that had the biggest influence on the game, as it caused havoc. Aubrey Modiba’s effort in the 45th minute flew high and wide, as the wind caught it.
Eight minutes of stoppage time was added before the break and Thabang Monare’s effort from the edge of the area almost caught Williams out, but it lacked power and the Sundowns keeper was able to make a simple stop in the end.
With the wind now in Sundowns’ favour in the second 45, Rulani Mokwena’s team looked to wrestle away the advantage and began to see more possession.
Mokoena tried from range on the hour mark, but his shot went just wide of Chaine’s goal.
The conditions were not making it easy for Pirates, and they were battling to clear their lines, with only a few forays into the opponent’s half now.
But while Sundowns remained in control, there were few attempts at goal for them either, however, Shalulile went close in the 75th minute, as he tried to turn and shoot, only for it to fly over.
Mokoena’s effort in the 77th minute was always going off target, as was Relebohile Mofokeng’s effort a minute later in a rare chance for Pirates in the second half.
Marcello Allende forced a save from Chaine in the 82nd minute, though Sundowns had looked suspiciously off-side in the build-up.
Monnapule Saleng had a great chance for Pirates in stoppage time, but his shot flew into the side-netting.
And with no goals scored in the 90 minutes, extra time was required.
Sundowns thought they had a penalty in the fourth minute of extra time after Chaine lost control of the ball and looked to have fouled Lebohang Maboe, but the referee blew for a Pirates free kick instead.
Moments later the Sundowns bench was incensed again after Shalulile went down in the box clashing with Miguel Timm, and again Abongile Tom ruled in Pirates’ favour.
Just before half-time in extra time, Allende tried from range but it flew over.
Sundowns thought they had a goal with two minutes to go, when Junior Mendieta had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for an offside call from earlier.
And so with no winner in 120 minutes, penalties were required and it was Chaine who stepped up to be the hero saving three penalties from Bongani Zungu, Mendieta and Mokoena.