Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila have made history by winning their first ever major trophy, lifting the Nedbank Cup at the Free State Stadium on Saturday evening after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chippa United.
This battle between two teams who are under very real threat of relegation from the top flight did not always demonstrate the highest levels of quality, but the fight and heart shown by both sides was a credit to South African football.
Tshakhuma started the stronger of the two teams, with the likes of Thabo Rakhale, Celimpilo Ngema and Thabo Mnyamane seeing plenty of the ball and forcing Chippa onto the back foot in the early minutes.
The Eastern Cape side gradually settled into a rhythm and began to establish themselves in the game, but TTM then claimed the lead out of nothing in the 27th minute. Ndabayithethwa Ndlondo tried his luck from long range and saw his effort deflect off the head of defender Frederic Nsabiyumva to wrong-foot goalkeeper Ismail Watenga and find the back of the net for 1-0.
The Chilli Boys’ best chance to level the game before the halftime break arrived on 36 minutes when a strong run from Thabiso Lebitso offered a shooting chance from the right of the penalty area, but he blazed an effort high and wide.
Tshakhuma opened the second half confidently and should have added to their lead within 90 seconds of the restart: Rakhale provided a great ball for Lerato Lamola from the left, but the striker’s low shot was straight at a grateful Watenga.
On 55 minutes the Chippa ‘keeper, under pressure from Ndlondlo, hurried a clearance straight to Ngema, who looked for a first-time effort to catch Watenga off his line but sent the ball just over the target.
Midway through the second half Chippa introduced Bienvenu Eva Nga to play alongside Augustine Kwem in a physically-powerful front duo, while midfield reinforcements also arrived soon after in the shape of Mduduzi Sibeko and Ayabulela Konqobe.
The Chilli Boys also threw on veteran attacker Anthony Laffor, whose first touch was a glancing header on target in the 77th minute which was comfortably saved by Washington Arubi, with the Eastern Cape side beginning to build major pressure by this stage of the game.
Yet Vhadau Vha Damani’s resilient and determined defence held firm, turning away every Chilli Boys attempt to get back into the game. The Limpopo side greeted the final whistle with cheers and tears, as they completed a historic victory to secure a first-ever major trophy.
Tshakhuma TM (1) 1 (Ndlondlo 27’) Chippa United 0 TEAMS:
Tshakhuma:Arubi, Thopola (Lukhubeni 84’), Ndengane, Nonyane, Ravhuhali, Ndlondo, Timm, Rakhale (Theron 81’), Ngema (Manaka 81’), Mnyamane, Lamola (Rantie 63’)
Chippa United:Watenga, Mobbie, Nsabiyumva, Mthethwa, Hanamub, Lebitso (Damons 67’), Sangweni (Konqobe 72’), M. Maloisane (Eva Nga 67’), Lentjies (Sibeko 72’), Mdlinzo, Kwem (Laffor 77’)