First cup final for TTM’s Washington Aurbi after Nedbank Cup heroics against Mamelodi Sundowns
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CAPE TOWN - Washington Arubi was the hero for Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila on Sunday afternoon as the underdogs shocked Mamelodi Sundowns 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals at Loftus Versveld.
After the match ended in a goalless stalemate after the regular 90 minutes and a further half hour of extra time, Arubi stepped up and saved Hlompho Kekana's sudden death penalty allowing Thembisani Nevhulamba to drive home the winner that sent TTM into raptures.
TTM will face Chippa United in the Nedbank Cup final at a venue yet to be decided on May 8.
Arubi was the undoubted Man of the Match not only for his shootout heroics, but also for his brilliant performance in the match itself.
The Zimbabwean shot-stopper virtually single-handedly kept TTM in the contest throughout the 120 minutes with a string of world class saves.
Arubi produced a superb reflex save to deny a powerful Subusiso Vilakazi strike from close range shortly before the end of the regular 90 minutes.
He was at his brilliant best again midway through the first period of extra time when he dived acrobatically to right to punch away a well-taken free kick from Lyle Lakay.
With Sundowns pressing for the winner right until the very end Arubi was called into action yet again when he blocked a Peter Shalulile volley from close range before Onyango's rebound header was ruled off-side.
"It was a tough game. We managed to do the right thing in the centre because that's always where they want to penetrate. I am happy. It will be my first final," Arubi said after the match.
Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi also paid tribute to the veteran keeper.
"Credit to their goalkeeper. He was superb. He made some sterling saves. There were times when he was dead and buried but he got up again," Mngqithi said.
Both teams would have felt though that they deserved a penalty during the actual match with firstly Sundowns' Uruguayan striker Gaston Sirino being brought down in the box.
The referee, however, was not interested in the same manner that he waved play on later in the game when Tshakhuma were adamant they deserved a penalty after Thembisani Nevhulamba went down in the box following an Brian Onyango tackle.
TTM produced a solid defensive effort throughout to keep the defending champions at bay with a very structured display.
Downs dominated possession and were probably guilty of over-elaborating their passes when a clean strike at goal might have been a better option.
However, they did have the best chance of the game to take the lead when ace playmaker Themba Zwane found the ball at his feet within the small box with the TTM goal gaping infront of him midway through the second half. But instead of calmly slotting the ball home like he usually would, Zwane blasted his shot over the bar and the chance went abegging.
The defending champions were made to rue this miss as the Brazilians were defeated for the first time in 30 matches across all competitions.