Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila will meet Chippa United in the Nedbank Cup final after overcoming Mamelodi Sundowns 6-5 on penalties after full-time had ended 0-0 at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
TTM’s Zimbabwean goalkeeper Washington Arubi made several astonishing saves throughout 120 minutes to see the game end 0-0 after extra time.
He then kept 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 from the opening stages and put together some intricate passing moves in midfield, though clear chances were tough to create against a disciplined and well-organised Tshakhuma defence.
TTM also struggled to feed the likes of Thabo Mnyamane and Tokelo Rantie with scoring chances, as their crosses from out wide were dominated by the aerial power of ‘Downs defenders Rushine De Reuck and Ricardo Nascimento.
Themba Zwane blew a great chance to put Sundowns ahead in the 55th minute, skying over from close range after Arubi had only been able to parry Gaston Sirino’s low cross into the path of the reigning player of the year.
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 ‘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 saw the drama continue at both ends: 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.
"We expected a very tough match because they are a very good team," Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqihi told SuperSport after the game.
"Don't take them lightly. But I think credit today should be given to their goalkeeper. Washington was on top of his game today. He made some outstanding saves in areas where you thought he was dead and buried and he came out.