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By Tshepo Ntsoelengoe

Football Journalist

Saleng wonder-goal hands Pirates MTN8 title

Pirates have won the MTN8 trophy four times.

Jose Riveiro won his first title for Orlando Pirates, thanks to a brilliant free-kick by Monnapule Saleng, as the Buccaneers beat AmaZulu FC 1-0 to lift the MTN8 title in front of a packed Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night.

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The win gave the Buccaneers R8 million-worth of reasons to put behind them their defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby last weekend at the Orlando Stadium.

With Bucs winning the MTN8 for the fourth time, the Soweto giants get to keep the trophy in their cabinet after the sponsors announced that there will be a new trophy introduced next season.

Losing the final was a huge blow for AmaZulu, who were aiming for their first ever trophy in the Premier Soccer League era, in a game played out in front of King Misizulu kaZwelethini.

It was an intense game between the two clubs, fit for a first tournament of the season.

With AmaZulu playing in their home province, Usuthu had so much to prove, despite the fact that there were a lot of Buccaneers fans in the stadium.

From the early moments of the game, there were some promising attacks from both sides, but the Buccaneers were making more entries into their opponents’ half.

Pirates did have to recover from an early blow as defender Nkosinathi Sibisi was forced off with an injury, Paseka Mako coming on in his place.

It was in the 25th minute that Pirates would  finally get their lead after Saleng’s well taken set-piece beat the Usuthu keeper at his far post to make it 1-0 for the Gauteng based side, with the winger registering his third goal of the tournament.

Moments later, AmaZulu had to make a forced change as Ramahlwe Mphahlele had to be taken off after colliding with Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori. The former Kaizer Chiefs defender was immediately replaced by Mbongeni Gumede.

Desperate to get an equaliser, Usuthu striker Gabadinho Mhango attempted a repeat of Argentinean footballer Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 Fifa World Cup, but he was noticed by the referee and got a yellow card before the game went into the break.

The KwaZulu-Natal based side’s play looked better in the second half, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net.

As time went by, AmaZulu’s stress to get a goal increased, while Pirates were looking to seal the game by getting the second goal.

Deon Hotto had a good chance in the last moments of the game, but the Namibian’s shot was not powerful enough to trouble Mothwa. Still, the Buccaneers had already done enough to take home the trophy.

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