Washington Arubi put in a heroic performance to give Tshakhuma (TTM) a shock 6-5 penalty shootout win over Mamelodi Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday.
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 the first half stages but clear chances were tough to create against a disciplined and well-organised Tshakhuma defence and the interval saw the teams still locked at 0-0.
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 goal 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 drama
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 on Saturday, May 8.