TTM STUN SUNDOWNS TO REACH NEDBANK CUP FINAL

Washington Arubi put in a heroic performance to give Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila a shock 6-5 penalty shootout win over Mamelodi Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup semifinal at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

TTM’s Zimbabwean goalkeeper made several astonishing saves throughout 120 minutes to see the game end 0-0 after extra time, before keeping out a spot kick from Hlompho Kekana in the shootout, allowing Thembisani Nevhulamba to score the decisive penalty and send the Limpopo side through to the final against Chippa United next month.

Sundowns dominated from the opening stages and put together some intricate passing moves in midfield, though clear chances were tough to create against a disciplined and well-organised Tshakhuma defence.

A rare of sight of goal was presented to ‘Downs attacker Lesedi Kapinga in the ninth minute, but he saw his shot plucked out of the air by TTM goalkeeper Washington Arubi.

The Limpopo visitors also struggled to feed the likes of Thabo Mnyamane and Tokelo Rantie with scoring chances, as their crosses from out wide were dominated by the aerial power of ‘Downs defenders Rushine De Reuck and Ricardo Nascimento.

The Brazilians retained their patient probing throughout the first half, but the interval saw the teams still locked at 0-0. The opening seconds of the new stanza saw the hosts almost claim the lead, with Sphelele Mkhulise beating Arubi to a long ball and lobbing an effort on target, but veteran defender Alfred Ndengane recovered to clear.

Themba Zwane blew a great chance to put Sundowns ahead in the 55th minute, skying over from close range after Arubi had only been able to parry Gaston Sirino’s low cross into the path of the reigning player of the year.

Just over 10 minutes later the team in yellow and blue threatened again, this time with Sirino meeting Lyle Lakay’s cross from the left with a powerful downward header, but Arubi made a fine save diving to his right.

Midway through the second half ‘Downs were denied a clear penalty when Sirino hurdled a challenge from Diamond Thopola and was legitimately tripped up by the defender on his way down, but the referee waved away the spot kick appeals.

Tshakhuma offered a couple of threatening moments as the end of regulation time approached, though they needed Arubi to make a world-class save in the 87th minute, as the ‘keeper somehow kept out a fearsome volley from Sibusiso Vilakazi that looked destined for the top corner of the net – ensuring the game ended goalless after regulation time.

Extra time saw the drama continue at both ends: Sundowns had Lakay’s free kick denied by a brilliant save from Arubi, who later pulled off yet another incredible stop to deny Peter Shaluile (with a follow-up headed into the net, only for the offside flag to be raised), while TTM had their own strong penalty appeal turned down when Thembisani Nevhulamba was tripped up by Brian Onyango.

The shootout saw 10 successive penalties hit the back of the net before the first kick in ‘sudden death’ saw Kekana’s shot kept out by Arubi’s left hand – Nevhulamba then slid home the final kick to see Vhadau Vha Damani triumph 6-5 and claim a shock place in the Nedbank Cup final.

Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Tshakhuma TM 0 – After extra time, TTM won 6-5 on penalties

Sundowns: Goss, Morena, De Reuck (Kekana 103’), Nascimento, Modiba (B. Onyango 103’), Mkhulise, Coetzee, Zwane, Kapinga (Lakay 54’), Sirino (Vilakazi 71’), Shalulile

Tshakhuma: Arubi, Lukhubeni (Nevhulamba 65’), Ndengane, Thopola, Nonyane, Theron, Manaka (Madhanga 108’), Mnyamane (Ngele 108’), Ngema (Bereng 93’), Rantie (Malongoane 65’), Ndlondlo (Timm 94’).

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