cup kings

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Winning the inaugural Nedbank Cup is a major boost for Mamelodi Sundowns ahead of their MTN Confederation Cup campaign, which gets under way in July.

Sundowns earned themselves a cool R6 million after a hard fought 1-0 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces in the final of Ke Yona at Johannesburg Stadium on Saturday.

An 88th minute strike by Lerato Chabangu saw the National First Division outfit settling for the R2,5 million runners-up prize.

The Brazilians take on Egypt's Haras El Hodoud on the weekend of July 12 after both sides bombed out of the African Champions League.

"It's so great to have scored the all-important goal, we worked hard and deserved it," said Chabangu as he was congratulated by teammates and officials.

"We had ups and downs, but ending the season on such a high note with a historic victory is also good for our supporters.

"The win is a solid foundation in our preparations for the Confederation Cup and the new league season."

Trott Moloto, Sundowns' caretaker coach, said: "Great win and credit to the boys. We knew it was going to be tough and experience counted a lot.

"Aces resisted a lot, especially in the middle of the park. We should also praise Bra Kenny [Ndlazi, Aces' coach], they were no pushovers."

It was a great way to end the season for Moloto. Some of the Sundowns faithful believe club president Patrice Motsepe should appoint him permanently.

While many people expected it to be a walk in the park for Sundowns, Aces showed no respect to their more experienced opponents. They gave a good account of themselves, but seemed to suffer from a phobia for goals, especially in the first half with Kabamba Musasa being the chief culprit.

With Aces looking more dangerous when in possession, Sundowns resorted to playing the off-side trap on several occasions. Downs were better organised as the match progressed.

The match, which was watched by a capacity crowd, seemed headed for extra time when Chabangu ended the goal drought. He slotted home a cross from Vuyo Mere to become the first player since the start of the tournament to score against Aces.

Sundowns will join Santos in the 2009 Confederation Cup.