Chabangu’s superb strike quells upstarts Aces

2008-05-25 00:00

Lerato Chabangu’s superb volley two minutes from the end spared Mamelodi Sundowns the ignominy of being taken to extra time by Mpumalanga Black Aces in Downs in a 1-0 Nedbank Cup final victory at Johannesburg Stadium on Saturday.

It may not have been a classic final, but the battle between the no-hoper Davids, first division Black Aces, and the Goliath of SA football was engrossing. As could have been expected, Aces’ aim was to disrupt Sundowns’ passing game and to squeeze a winner by frustrating the Pretoria giants into a lapse of focus.

This tactic worked well in the first half, where the first division team managed to stifle Downs by closing down the spaces and snapping at the heels of the vaunted Brazilians, while creating a few chances of their own.

Sundowns’ class showed in the second half, where they attacked with purpose. Luck, though, seemed to be on the Aces side, who had felled Thanda Royal Zulu and Free State Stars on the way to an unlikely place in the final of the R6-million first prize competition.

With extra time beckoning, and then perhaps even penalties, a speculative cross from Josta Dladla on the right looped off the head of Gordon Gilbert and fell to Chabangu on the left, who slammed in a volley that flew past Aces goalkeeper Michael Babale before he had time to blink.

It was just the sort of out-of-nowhere goal Downs needed to win the trophy against niggling opponents in a fidgety final.

"What else can you ask for — the boys did exactly what was expected of them," said Sundowns caretaker coach Trott Moloto, for whom the trophy adds to the Coca-Cola Cup title he won at the helm of Umata Bucks in 1995.

"I was not happy with the first half. We were keeping possession, but you have to score goals.

"Credit must go to Mpumalanga Black Aces. They frustrated our midfield by playing five in the middle and just the one striker. We expected that and we had to adjust to it. But we have won the cup and that’s the trophy I have been looking for."

Sundowns’ season had been heading for mediocrity, the defending PSL champions finishing fourth in the league, but has finished on a high with a second trophy of the season, having also won the SAA Supa 8 in September. The Brazilians reached all three cup finals this season.

Aces had the best of the half-chances in the first half when, in the 27th minute, Edelbert Dinha’s close-range shot was saved by Downs keeper Brian Baloyi. The first division side lost impetus when midfielder Lindokuhle Mbatha had to be replaced by Emannuel Emenike.

Sundowns grew in strength in the scond half, with Peter Ndlovu’s free-kick saved by Babale, the striker firing wide from an angle, while substitute Brent Carelse got in to cross, but could not connect the ball. With extra time looming, Bafana Bafana forward Chabangu produced his killer strike.

Nedbank Cup Final:

Mpumalanga Black Aces 0 Mamelodi Sundowns 1

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