Mamelodi Sundowns Suffer Nedbank Cup Final Defeat in Mbombela

After putting in a great fight and playing fantastic football in both halves, Mamelodi Sundowns slipped into a 2-1 defeat against Orlando Pirates on Saturday afternoon in a frantic action-packed affair at Mbombela Stadium.

The supporters in Mbombela marvelled at the great display of South African football from both sides who delivered a crackling start in an end-to-end clash. Masandawana dominated but didn’t make enough clear-cut chances, in contrast to their Orlando Pirates counterparts.

An early opportunity to open the scoring came from the hosts when Khuliso Mudau was knocked inside the 18 area. This prompted the referee to point to the spot, awarding them a penalty. The shot taken by Lucas Ribeiro was however cushioned by Pirates’ goalkeeper, Sipho Chaine, to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0.

That might have fired up the visitors as they posed threats a few times in the Downs box. Ronwen Williams however, made strong saves to deny Pirates an early lead, leaving the score at 0-0 at the break.

The restart promised more exciting football as the two sides looked to make their supporters happy. The scoring was finally opened on the 54th minute through captain fantastic, Themba Zwane’s easy tap in, that came from Ribeiro. Shortly after his assist, Ribero was forced to go out after an injury, prompting Coach Rulani to introduce Thapelo Morena.

In less than twenty minutes, the Buccaneers had levelled matters through Patrick Maswanganyi’s penalty kick, following a foul in the Downs box which prompted the referee to also point to the spot.

The pressure was building as both teams looked to not have a repeat of the previous meeting in a final, where the match went to penalties. After the back and forth of attempting to slot one in their respective boxes, to have the upper hand, it was the visitors that struck a blow to decide the game in stoppage time through substitute, Relebohile Mofokeng.

After the last gasp goal by the Soweto-based side, there was no chance for a comeback for the Brazilians as the referee blew the final whistle, denying them what would have been a treble dream.

How they line up: Williams, Mudau, Lebusa, Kekana, Zungu, Mokoena, Aubaas, Modiba, Allende, Zwane ©, Ribeiro.

Substitutes: D. Onyango, Lunga, Morena, Mkhulise, Mbule, Mendieta, Maema, Esquivel, Matthews.

11 Responses
  1. Muzi Kunene

    Rhulani didn’t use all his substitutes because his mind was on the injury time until Mofokeng stunned him with a killer punch that’s why on his post match interview he said I’m speechless and running out of words.
    I think that game was easy for us to win than loose if our coach and his friends on the pitch didn’t underestimated the opponents and Riveiro was very smart for benching Mofokeng and Mabasa and that’s where Rhulani got confused,he should have played Mbule or Mkhulise and Mokoena in the middlefield not Aubaas.
    If we failed to win an easy game like that I wonder how are we gonna win in Champs League,pls stop just once for telling us that you’re on top of them what’s important is the trophy not possession.
    Maybe I don’t know soccer or I don’t appreciate what good you did for us but I don’t see you giving us something new or better with this philosophy of yours a change is needed sooner than later.
    You always said this style of football we are playing didn’t come with you but it’s Downs style but I beg to differ with you,too many backpasses and slow build ups and possession on our half is not our style go and check our previous games during the days of Masilela,Feutmba,Morris etc you’ll see what we are always crying about,with the players we have at our team we struggle just to score a second goal look at our game against CTC and semifinal against Esperance we struggle the whole game just to score one goal,this is not Downs we knew and supported,ya the referee was not good on the day but we didn’t came to part we were casual as always and I agreed with those who says you can swear the final was two legs,I know our Management are not happy to invest so much and end up not getting what they hope for maybe some heads will roll and that’s my wish.

  2. Mfana

    Sundowns once had Brian Baloyi who was working as an agent of Kaizer Chiefs when we were tracking a player he would go&tell Chiefs.In Rhulani we r having another back stabber who breaks records for all the wrong reasons.Shalulile played in a league match last week and when we needed him most is not selected.Sirino b4 the final was on 3 goals in the Nedbank cup like Maswanganyi,yet Sirino ddnt play &Tito played &scored against us.Sundowns played the whole game with no midfielders&no striker.Morena came on second half displayed the same wrong mentality against Esperance and him and Mendieta showed no signs 2 change the complexion of the game.Riveiro made almost 4 substitutions 2 show that he wanted the trophy more than Rhulani’s as only made 2 subs.He is now saying Sundowns dominated possession confusing back passes to attacking bcoz I may ask how often dd Chaine made a save from Sundowns attackers.Rhulani is starting to b mo than a soccer analyst than 2 b a Sundowns coach.Rhulani deregistered Nasir and brought an expensive Esquivel 2 freeze him on Sundowns.His counterpart made substitutions that changed the complexion of the game when all u were obsessed with ball domination..U can do & sacrifice,risk injuries 2 crucial players bcoz of only 3 points &yet u ddnt get it 4 a stupid unbeaten records what about losing trophies ..I thought Rhulani was clever but is starting to b a certified fool.I mean since Pitso was here together &the 3 of u Kompela&Mngqithi,Sundowns has not lost a single 🏆 let alone 2.Yet u need 4 years,just 2 advertise or market yourself in World Club Cup competition,wow to me u r too much of a motormouth than a coach.Your divisive approach is killing Sundowns dearly and if u r not seeing it cracks r starting to show don’t say I ddnt warn u.How was Sundowns going to win the battle with only midfielders&no strikers against Ndah&Maela.Jose Riveiro was clever than u this time ⌚.

  3. Muzi Kunene

    Since Saturday afternoon after game I’m ashamed to watch anything related to soccer e.g Overthinkers on George Mokoena on YouTube,Amafans Wethu even now @ 5pm I won’t listen to Big Joe on Ikwekwezi let alone @ 6pm I will watch anything related to election really I’m ashamed and embarrassed because I know everybody is happy for what happened to us on Saturday sidliwa ingane ena 19 yes old.
    Even Ace and Hlungwani they won’t see anything wrong about the referee including two bookings for the goalkeeper and the penalty of Maswangayi.Its painfully to be a Downs supporter only the brown envelope is related to Downs not to other people,lastly I’m waiting for the day where Bucs will beat us fair and square without the help of the referee just like they did two years ago in Polokwane.

  4. Malea

    Coach mokwena support pirate, en we all saw on our stating lineup that we are not playing for win. He sold our game live. New coash is needed

  5. Bennedict

    Coach I’m disappointed in the manner you approached the Nedbank final, at times I ask myself what is the point of you spending the time to rewatch game three times cause the way Pirates beat was the same in the top 8. The point of keeping the ball in the wrong areas and when you go forward is easily taken away or the shots are taken
    but not on target very pointless. You spoke about being all over Pirates and yet have nothing to show for it. From caf you should have learned something that from the quarter final the level changes and teams just want to see themselves in the final and it means the defeat / park the bus the whole 90 minutes but score a single goal that’s all that matters not pretty soccer. They know how to frustrate Mamelodi Sundowns but Sundowns does not know how to win by frustrating other teams, which is what matters at the end of the day. The history books will not remember the pretty soccer the team played or how much ball position you had in the final but it will say who won the final. The coach I saw at youth levels and I admired also how you have improved but you still need to learn a lot when playing cup games as compared to the league games. The whole point of having subs is that the are going to change the game for sure with a doubt but my feelings is that you are not confident of this players hence you hardly make the changes. Even if you played the same team that played against Chiefs and lost I was going to take it cause it’s a team with youth and yes it was a long season for our team but because of not trusting your own team, you paid the price for it with two losses specially the final. Coach my advise to you is that you need to change the way you play in cup games as compared to league games – if it means you get to the final not playing pretty soccer and also winning by one goal it’s fine and even win the final with same margins. And stop over thinking things cause in games when is changes you don’t adopt to the changes it’s like you don’t have plan B.

  6. kick boboza

    I wanted to write something but i decided otherwise, Masandawana. Pirates is not a good team BUT our players make it look good, they are winning the cups against us and that make them to be more superior than us, our players know that recently the referees are playing a very vital role assisting pirates against us BUT our players are very careless, we need to score our every chance we get, i think the team needs to stop paying bonuses and pay players for the targeted number of trophies to be won. so as it stands Pirates are better than us. I remember when we exposed Kaizer Chiefs, the players doubled their efforts, people will never sympathize with you that the ref robbed you. do it in the field of play. beat them with the referee. your defense,attack and midfield must be focused. play the whole game with energy.

  7. Thatoh

    I keep hearing that we will learn after every disappointing season, the big question is are we learning? Or we will be students in CAF for ages. For me, to beaten by Pirates twice in a cup game in a similar fashion does not indicate any learnings, Esperance beat us twice, home and away, question is, did we learn anything in the first leg? Yanga gave us a problem home and away and almost scored the controversial goal until we were lucky to beat them on Penalties.

    Some of us can see by now that teams park the bus from Quarter Finals and want to catch us on counters and you fall for the trap and don’t learn.
    Hugo Bros showed mastered this strategy with no unnecessary back passes that only puts us underpressure.l like in our first game against Mali, ever since we abolished the back passes it was difficult to beat Bafana, we could rather go to Penalties instead.

  8. Thatoh

    I keep hearing that we will learn after every disappointing season, the big question is are we learning? Or we will be students in CAF for ages. For me, to be beaten by Pirates twice in a cup game in a similar fashion does not indicate any learnings, Esperance beat us twice, home and away, question is, did we learn anything in the first leg? Yanga gave us a problem home and away and almost scored the controversial goal until we were lucky to beat them on Penalties.

    Some of us can see by now that teams park the bus from Quarter Finals and want to catch us on counters and we fall for the trap and we become persistent with futile tactics and don’t learn from even the previous encounters as the same fruitless results were visible, you come the second leg with the dame fruitless tactics and hope for a something different.

    Hugo Bros mastered this strategy with no unnecessary back passes that only puts us underpressure like in our first game against Mali, ever since we abolished the back passes it was difficult to beat Bafana, we could rather go to Penalties instead.

  9. DOWNS4EVER

    Rulani is working against,if you can check the second leg of the AFL ,the recent games against Chiefs,Galaxy and Stellies you would see the team played lot of positive football with high intensity and the he saw that the way the team is playing would be difficult for teams to beat us he then reverted back to his nonsense ball possession.He is making our strong team to be weak with his weak style of play,,besides Pirates is his family team,you could see no pain in his facial expression,it was like he delivered on his mandate. We don’t have enough strikers and our play is centered around old players and nothing is bee done about it.Word of advice to Rulani,winning a league doesn’t make you a good coach at Downs,but the set up at Downs makes it possible,even Pitso failed to win the league at Ahly,he won it only with us.So don’t think you did anything special because many coaches and players come to us not knowing how league medal smells like only to smell it at Downs.

  10. Shando

    Members was watching the Stellies match last night and compared it with our games against Pirates. To be honest, I am really not sure what was the idea behind the line up of Aubaas, Moekoena, Allende, Zungu. I still don’t have a clue of what was being cooked here. This is where we lost a match. We have never had such a formation before, this was purely an experiment.

    As a technical team and coach, why do we always repeat same mistakes when it matters most..in finals. This is not the first we witness such mistakes. At times, I believe that since there is so much support from the BOARD, then we can do all we want taking advantage that we have the support. That line up was a disaster. Riveiro was smart….Saleng rise to the occasion when he plays downs,…and he acted on that…No emotions. You have Maema who statistically behind Zwane and Shalulile in stats, performs better against Pirates, but he was not even considered. Against Stellies , which to me , played even better than pirates, we fielded an attacking and strong team., but against Pirates we decide “lack of a better word” give them the cup on a silver platter. Let us fix this. This is so painful Coach.