Johannesburg – In arguably one of the most entertaining cup final spectacles without spectators, Orlando Pirates ended their lengthy but also painful six year trophy drought by thrashing Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 in the MTN8 final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban last night.
The victorious Pirates took home a R8-million cheque, the coveted trophy and medallions after four matches that mark this tournament.
Coach Josef Zinnbauer started with the same starting XI that did duty when Pirates fought back, coming twice from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Cape Town City in the league last weekend.
Celtic showed their intentions to dominate the proceedings as early as the first whistle, taking the game to the Buccaneers and the boys in green and white were duly rewarded with an early goal.
The Mangaung-based side stunned the Soweto giants when Siphelele Luthuli drew first blood, unleashing a close range shot after being fed a headed pass by Mzwanele Mahashe from a corner kick.
Pirates were compelled to make a forced substitution when the injured Thabang Monare was replaced the attacking Thembinkosi Lorch as coach Josef Zinnbauer searched for an equaliser.
Zinnbauer could not hide his joy when Deon Hotto levelled matters after sending keeper Jackson Mabokgwane the wrong way with his blinder 22 minutes from the break.
There was drama four minutes into the restart when Celtic’s Ronald Pfumbidzai fouled Lorch inside the box and referee Luxolo Badi did not hesitate to send him off. The same Lorch, who was a thorn in the flesh of the opposition defenders, dusted himself off and converted to give the Sea Robbers the winner.
The road to the final saw Bucs disposed of Cape Town City and beating arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the first leg, then thumping Amakhosi 2-0 in the second leg, then got a berth in the final via a 5-0 aggregate win.
On the other hand, Celtic were responsible for domestic treble winners Mamelodi Sundowns’ scalp. They also knocked out last season’s defending MTN8 champions SuperSport United, digging deep for the 2-1 aggregate passage to the final.
Celtic last tasted top eight victory back in 2005 and once again Phunya Selesele failed to win another knockout trophy following their 1-0 Nedbank Cup loss to Sundowns last season. Their mentor John Maduka won the same silverware as a player when it was the SAA Sup 8 fifteen years ago.
In the 45 top 8 tournaments to date, Chiefs have dominated the competition, enjoying the most success, winning the title 15 times since the knockout tournament started as the BP Top 8 in 1972. Pirates have now bagged their 10th win.
The seven other clubs will take home R800 000 each for a total prize money payout of R13.6-million.