|Moroka Swallows © Backpagepix
Bennett Chenene struck four minutes from the end of regulation time to hand Moroka Swallows a 2-1 win over SuperSport United in the MTN8 final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Matsatsantsa had opened the scoring early through Franklin Cale, only to be pegged back in the first half by a cracker from Giorgi Nergadze. Chenene then popped up late on to score for the fifth successive game and hand the Birds their first Top Eight trophy in 33 years.
The Soweto side brought goalkeeper Greg Etafia back into the starting line-up at the expense of the in-form Aubrey Mathibe, while Katlego Mashego started up front despite Siyabonga Nomvethe having recovered from injury.
SuperSport opted for a couple of surprising selections, with Sameehg Doutie handed his first start of the season, while George Maluleka was left on the bench as Mark Haskins started in the engine room alongside Edwin Gyimah.
Swallows appeared to settle the quicker of the two teams, but United surged ahead in the fifth minute. Sameehg Doutie played a defence-splitting pass to put Franklin Cale one-on-one with the goalkeeper and the winger easily finished to make it 1-0.
The Birds struck back on 18 minutes, with Giorgi Nergadze the unlikely goal scorer. The midfielder sent a long range shot past the right-hand of Rowen Fernandez and into the back of the net via the inside of the upright.
SuperSport almost reclaimed the lead immediately through defender Bevan Fransman, who flicked on from a Cale free kick and watched the ball flash agonisingly wide of the far post.
On 26 minutes Katlego Mashego should have put the Birds ahead, having cut inside Mor Diouf to be faced with only the ‘keeper to beat, but he scooped his effort over the crossbar from just a few metres out.
Just past the half hour mark it was United’s turn to threaten again, with Doutie exchanging passes with Sibusiso Zuma before seeing his goal-bound effort brilliantly turned away by Greg Etafia.
SuperSport had the first shot in anger of the second half, with Cale shooting through the defensive wall from a free kick only for Etafia to once again come up with a good stop.
Swallows then had a spell of pressure in which they almost forced a goal. Fernandez had to come up with a good save to keep out a Felix Obada shot from a tight angle, and Mor Diouf then cleared a Lerato Chabangu effort off the goal line.
With just under 10 minutes to play, Swallows had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when the ball struck Fransman on the arm in the box, and United then went on a quick counter attack which saw Khenyeza blaze a shot high and wide when he perhaps should have scored.
On 86 minutes the Birds finally got their goal, with a long ball springing the offside trap and sending Bennett Chenene through on goal. The in-form winger calmly lobbed the advancing Fernandez to make it 2-1 and hand Swallows the MTN8 crown.
Moroka Swallows (1) 2 (Nergadze 18’, Chenene 86’)
SuperSport United (1) 1 (Cale 5’)
Swallows: Etafia, Isaacs, Hendricks, Mungomeni, Lekgothoane, Obada (Nomvethe 68’), Tsutsulupa, Nergadze, Chenene (Sibaya 90+5’), Chabangu (Mathebula 88’), Mashego
SuperSport: Fernandez, Pietersen, Diouf, Fransman, Nkausu, Doutie, Gyimah, Haskins (Maluleka 62’), Cale (Mulenga 89’), Khenyeza, Zuma (Erasmus 58’)