Mamelodi Sundowns will get a chance at redemption following their 3-1 loss on penalties in the MTN 8 final when they take on Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup Final on 1 June at Mbombela Stadium. This proved to be the most looked forward to match as the tickets were sold out within a day of its availability. Let’s dive into the Nedbank Cup final preview:

DRAW 22/10

Mamelodi Sundowns

The Brazilians recently lifted their seventh consecutive league title with a historic 72 points after recording 22 victories, seven draws, one defeat and will be gunning for a third trophy of the season. They opened their 2023/2024 season campaign by lifting the inaugural African Football League trophy.

Rulani Mokwena’s side opened their Ke Yona campaign by easing past Motsepe Foundation Championship side NB La Masia 6-1 in a match where Gaston Sirino scored a hat-trick for his side. They were then pitted against another second-tier team Maritzburg United, Thembinkosi Lorch scored a brace to ensure that Masandawana moved into the quarterfinals of the competition.

Sundowns met their crosstown rivals University of Pretoria in the quarterfinals in a match that had to be decided on penalties after all sides refused to go down. Ronwen Williams saved two penalties to hand his side a 4-3 win that saw them matching into the semi-finals.

Masandawana faced their toughest competition in the semi-finals when they visited the then league’s second-positioned Stellenbosch FC in a final-calibre match. The DStv Premiership champions gained an early lead through Khuliso Mudau’s 12th-minute goal which was then followed by Thembinkosi Lorch’s goal in the 75th minute. The Wine Landers tried to come back with a Genino Palace’s 83rd-minute strike, but Sundowns protected their lead and booked their spot in the final through a 2-1 win.

The Pretoria side boasts an in-depth and experienced squad which has been instrumental in their latest success, despite being hit by several injuries, a number of players stepped up and did an impressive job. Lesiba Nku did a remarkable job when he was brought in to replace the injured Lucas Ribeiro scoring match-winning goals against Stellenbosch and Royal AM, unfortunately he suffered a groin injury and is a major doubt for the final.

Sipho Mbule also held the fort in the midfield when Teboho Mokoena was side-lined due to a hamstring injury. Mokoena looks to be returning to match fitness and is expected to be in the matchday squad after making it in the last two matches where he came in as a substitute.

Orlando Pirates

The 2022/2023 Nedbank Cup winners will have their hands full when they try to defend their Ke Yona Cup against the strongest side in the league. Pirates has been formidable when facing Sundowns, they managed to overcome them to lift the MTN8 trophy and also held them 1-1 in their last meeting despite playing with 10 men when Miguel Timm was shown a red card after receiving a second yellow card.

Jose Riveiro’s side began their journey towards defending their trophy by demolishing Mpumalanga side Crystal Lake FC 6-0 and that was followed by a 4-0 win against first division side 4-0 in a match where this season’s top goal scorer Tshegofatso Mabasa scored a brace to ensure that his side move into the quarterfinal without breaking a sweat.

AmaZulu welcomed the Soweto giants in the quarterfinal in what turned out to be a controversial match following some questionable referee decisions. In the end, Pirates recorded a 4-2 win through Patrick Maswanganyi’s brace as well as former AmaZulu midfielder Makhehlene Makhaula and Kabelo Dlamini’s goals to march into the last four.

The Buccaneers made their way into the final by rolling over Chippa United 3-1 through Kabelo Dlamini’s first-half brace and Tapelo Xoki’s 81st-minute goal which was the final nail in the coffin. Substitute Elmo Kambindu scored the consolation goal for the Chilli Boys as they bowed out of the competition.

Verdict: Pirates will face their toughest opponents yet in the competition in a bid to bag their second cup of the season. There is no obvious winner in this match as both sides have proven to not want to go down easily when facing each other. Orlando Pirates suffered a dip in form having failed to record a win in their past three matches suffering two defeats and closing off the season with a 1-1 draw against SuperSport United while Mamelodi Sundowns suffered their first defeat in their last league game. A draw at 22/10 is a safe bet for this match.

Written by Siphesihle Soni