Pitso Mosimane delivered the treble to Mamelodi Sundowns as Gaston Sirino's late strike was enough to give them a 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday evening at Orlando Stadium.
Sundowns' victory was immediately left in question as it emerged that Tebogo Langerman was included in their match-day squad, when he was supposed to be suspended. Langerman did not take the field against Phunya Sele Sele. National Soccer League rules are clear that any player in the match-day squad is said to have participated in the match.
Celtic immediately lodged a protest over Langerman's inclusion.
We can confirm that @Bloem_Celtic have lodged an official protest against @Masandawana for fielding an ineligible player. Tebogo Langerman picked up a fourth booking in the match against @BlackLeopardsFC last Saturday.#SSDiski #NedbankCup2020
— Thabiso TT Tema (@ThabisoTema) September 12, 2020
However, the rules also state that Celtic's protest had to come at least 30 minutes before kick off, and the greater likelihood is that Sundowns will only be fined.
After almost an hour of promising moves forward and missed chances, Sirino's effort was one that came close to finding the back of the net when he found his way of a tight spot, surrounded by three men, to unleash a shot had Sipho Chaine well-beaten but could not beat the upright, crashing off the woodwork.
About 20 minutes later, Sirino was again at the end of another Sundowns attack, this time he was supplied by Themba Zwane, who found him on his bike unmarked and the skilful attacker picked his spot, curled past Chaine once and this time his attempt rattled the back of the net, scoring the all-important goa.
Before Sundowns' goal, Celtic coach John Maduka did try to tilt the game to his side's favour as he was the first to look to his bench for options and he decided to make a double substitution, withdrawing captain Ndumiso Mabena around the hour mark together with Siphelele Luthuli who were replaced by Tebogo Potsane and Neo Maema.
Mosimane restored his number, one goalkeeper, Denis Onyango into the starting line-up after he missed a couple of games due to injury. Sundowns fans alsohad a chance to see Thapelo Morena back in action after recovering from a horrific injury in February. He came on for the first time in the Biologically Safe Environment, making a cameo in the dying moments of the game, slotting at the No.9's role to see out Downs' win. Ultimately, however, the winners of the Nedbank Cup could be decided off the field.
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