Mamelodi Sundowns 0 (5) – 0 (6) TTM: Arubi the hero in major Nedbank Cup upset
The Tshwane giants and defending champions could have wrapped up victory with ease had it not been for the superb form of the visiting shot-stopper
TTM goalkeeper Washington Arubi had what may well be the game of his life in a sensational 6-5 penalty shootout victory over Mamelodi Sundowns, as the Limpopo side booked their spot in the Nedbank Cup final after a goalless 120 minutes at Loftus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
TTM will meet fellow league strugglers Chippa United in the final in a month’s time.
Sundowns started well enough and had a couple of openings around the 10-minute mark, both of which fell to Lesedi Kapinga.
But the scoreline was never really in danger of changing as his first effort, from 25-yards out, was comfortably held by Arubi, while the second chance, after some nice interplay, was put wide.
Those moments aside, Sundowns struggled to create space and openings against a well-organized, focused and hard-working TTM side.
Certainly, the tactics employed by TTM coaches Dylan Kerr – who was up in the stands, still waiting for his work permit – Mpho Maleka and David Mathebula, seemed spot on as Downs continued to be frustrated for the remainder of the opening stanza.
Both teams started the second half with purpose, although it was the Brazilians who had the chances – the first saw Sphelele Mkhulise running onto a free kick from Thapelo Morena, before lobbing the ball over Arubi’s head, only for TTM defender Alfred Ndengane to get back and clear off the line.
There was another great opportunity for Sundowns in the 54th minute when Arubi failed to hold onto Gaston Sirino’s low cross, the ball falling kindly for Themba Zwane, but from just 12-yards out the Bafana winger skied the ball into the stands.
The Pretoria side kept plugging away and had another chance in the 66th minute when Lyle Lakay’s cross picked out Gaston Sirino, but Arubi did well to save the header.
Soon after Sirino was denied what seemed a good call for a penalty after a rather rash challenge by Diamond Thopola in the TTM box.
With just three minutes of regulation time to play, Downs substitute Sibusiso Vilakazi looked set to win the game for his side when he volleyed powerfully from around 10 metres out, but once again Arubi came to his side’s rescue, making a world-class reflex save.
Deep in added time, both Vilakazi and Morena squandered further chances to win the game, resulting in extra time.
Arubi was at it again after the restart, making a fantastic save to keep out Lakay’s stinging free kick.
In the second half of extra time, Downs defender Brian Onyango, on as a sub, was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he sent Thembisani Nevhulamba tumbling in the hosts’ box.
With six minutes to play, it was Shalulile’s turn to be denied by the brilliance of Arubi, who once more got a strong hand to a close-range volley, and although Onyango netted from the rebound, the goal was correctly called off-sides.
To penalties it went and after both teams had converted their first five spot kicks, Arubi made one last save, this time denying Hlompho Kekana. It was then left to Nevhulamba to beat Ricardo Goss with the last kick of the game, which he did.