Home Sport Morena scores late to help Sundowns complete domestic treble

Morena scores late to help Sundowns complete domestic treble

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Thapelo Morena scored with the very last kick of the match as Mamelodi Sundowns beat Marumo Gallants in the Nedbank Cup final to complete the domestic treble.

Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates after scoring the opening goal during their Nedbank Cup Final against Marumo Gallants at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday
Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates after scoring the opening goal during their Nedbank Cup Final against Marumo Gallants at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Rustenburg — Thapelo Morena landed the sucker punch that saw the spectators invade the pitch after the final whistle as Mamelodi Sundowns completed their domestic treble after winning the Nedbank Cup.

At a cool Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, the Brazilians beat Marumo Gallants 2-1 in extra time to win the Nedbank Cup, their third trophy of the season after winning the MTN8 earlier in the season and the league title.

Sundowns, 52, and Gallants, 5, are two worlds apart when it comes to age, depth and success, despite the two teams being fond of shoe shine football, thanks to their astute coaching personnel.

Despite their differences though, they had worked their socks off in this competition, having Sundowns won it three seasons ago, before Gallants were crowned champions as TTM last term.

But the writing that the two teams are worlds apart appeared to be on the wall even from the organisers’ point of view. They decided to host this game at the neglected World Cup venue.

As if that was not enough. They called upon the services of veteran musical duo and trio Mafikizolo and TKZEE, who were still relevant in the early 2000s, to entertain fans in the pre-match festivities.

Those who danced for them must have felt forced, given how the spirit of Amapiano has consumed ‘Ama200s’ (the national nickname of the people who were born in this millennium).

And that’s why it was perhaps befitting that a young, half-naked, pitcher invader was escorted out of the field to a round of applause after hugging Gallants’ Tshepo Gumede. It’s their time!

That reaction further unified the sea of yellow and green in the stands, given that it was hard to separate the staunch fans of the two teams who share a touch of green in their respective regalia.

While the fans were almost one, there were no pleasantries shared between the two teams. Gaston Sirino nearly drew first blood on the enemy with a piledriver, forcing a save from Washington Arubi.

Sundowns’ bright start meant that Gallants’ coach Dan “Dance” Malesela would be on his feet the entire game. There were nervy and proud moments for the 2019 winner with TS Galaxy.

The Brazilians’ duo Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena had a cheeky approach, benching regulars Themba Zwane and Denis Onyango as Neo Maema and Kennedy Mweene got the nod.

But that gamble paid off as Sundowns’ didn’t need the dazzling feet of Zwane in the first as Peter Shalulile took over the baton to put his team ahead with a solo effort after the half-an-hour mark.

Shalulile twisted and turned his markers inside the box, before passing the ball to his weaker left foot to lob the ball over the defence and an onrushing Ndlovu into an empty net.

By the time Zwane came on the 65th minute, to a rousing cacophony of noise, Sundowns had slightly put the foot off the gas — but they were sill in control of their fate.

Zwane isn’t just embraced by his teammates alright. A young Sundowns fan walked in front of the media box with a placard written: “If Zwane and Jali don’t deserve to play for Bafana, who does?”

This was clearly a swipe at the Bafana coach Hugo Broos who’s overlooked the duo, saying they are old for his team – albeit their sizzling form this season.

Sundowns had ample chances to consolidate their lead by firing in front of goal. Gallants, meanwhile, punished them for their sloppiness as Junior Dion headed home from close-range.

The match went into extra time after the two teams were unseparated in regulation as they headed to extra-time where Morena, 32, scored late into the second half to win Sundowns’ third trophy of the season.

@Mihlalibaleka

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