Sundowns trash Pirates to reach Nedbank semifinals

Mamelodi Sundowns claimed an emphatic 4-1 win over Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final game which was played at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Thursday evening.

Peter Shalulile, Themba Zwane, Lesedi Kapinga and Hlompho Kekana all netted for Masandawana, while Tshegofatso Mabaso grabbed the Buccaneers’ consolation goal.

Masandawana were hoping to keep their Nedbank Cup defence on track having set a new unbeaten record of 20 matches in the PSL after defeating Chippa United 2-1 on Monday.

Gaston Sirino made his return to the starting line-up as Sundowns’ co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena made one change to the team which faced Chippa. 

On the other hand, Bucs were looking to reach the Nedbank Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2017 having thrashed Libya’s Al Ahli Benghazi 3-0 in the Caf Confederation Cup game on Sunday.

Pirates head coach Josef Zinnbauer made two changes to the team which faced Al Ahli as he recalled Thulani Hlatshwayo and Thabang Monare to the starting line-up.

Masandawana saw most of the ball in the opening proceedings with Rivaldo Coetzee dictating the tempo of the match and he was involved when the home side opened the scoring.

The defensive midfielder played a long ball for unmarked Peter Shalulile, who controlled it well before firing past on-rushing Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands to hand Sundowns a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.

Pirates were under siege and Sundowns should have been 2-0 up when Shalulile found himself in a one-on-one situation with Sandilands and he opted to pass the ball to Themba Zwane, but it was intercepted and cleared away by Hlatshwayo.

The visitors managed to level matters against the run of play when Frank Mhango played a low cut back pass which was tapped home by Tshegofatso Mabasa to make it 1-1 in the 33rd minute with Deon Hotto having started a brilliant team move.

It was then end-to-end stuff as Sirino was denied twice by Sandilands and at the other end, Mhango hit the crossbar, before the Pirates striker was let down by his first touch after being sent through on goal and the score was 1-1 at the interval following an entertaining first-half.

Masandawana controlled the match after the restart with Shalulile impressing with his hold up play with the likes of Sirino and Zwane feeding him with some good passes.

The 27-year-old was involved when the hosts restored their lead as he did well to hold the ball up for Zwane, who then scored to make it 2-1 to Sundowns after the Bafana international had unleashed a shot from a tight angle.

Pirates were unlucky not to level matters when Sundowns keeper Denis Onyango made a crucial block on the goal-line after Hotto’s low cross was deflected by Mosa Lebusa as the Buccaneers pushed for the equalising goal.

The Masandawana technical team then made two inspired substitutions as Lesedi Kapinga and Hlompho Kekana both went on to score in the closing proceedings with the Tshwane giants running riot.

Kapinga made it 3-1 to the hosts when he netted with a thunderous shot which went in after hitting the inside of Sandilands’ right upright in the 78th minute, before Kekana sealed Sundowns’ 4-1 win a powerful low strike with four minutes left.

As a result, Sundowns progressed to the semi-finals where they will take on Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) on Sunday, while Pirates crashed out of the tournament and they are set to face Algeria’s ES Setif in the Confederation Cup game on April 21.

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