Orlando Pirates completed a treble by coming from behind to defeat second-tier Black Leopards 3-1 in the South African FA Cup final. Dutch coach Ruud Krol guided them to victory in the early season Top 8 Cup and they snatched the league title on goal difference from Ajax Cape Town last weekend.
Pirates, who also reached the League Cup final, but lost heavily to arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs, fell behind early in the second half when defender Rooi Mahamutsa conceded an own goal. However, Zambian Isaac Chansa levelled on 72 minutes and a brace from fellow midfielder Thulasizwe Mbuyane completed a memorable season for the 1995 African champions.
"It is always difficult against outsiders, but we woke up after falling behind. We have worked hard and deserve the treble," said Krol.
Leopards, the third lower league club to reach the final in four seasons, were back-pedalling from the kick-off as Pirates sought an early goal before a capacity 43,000 crowd in perfect conditions. The club from the northeast town of Thohoyandou lifted the siege, though, to create the first clear chance of the match on 15 minutes only for leading scorer Rodney Ramagalela to just miss connecting with a low cross.
Pirates retaliated within 60 seconds as young striker Bongani Ndulula pounced on a carelessly headed pass intended for goalkeeper Azwindini Maphaha, who did well to block a close-range shot. While the Pirates had more possession, Leopards threatened during swift counter-attacks with Malawi-born captain and midfielder Robert Ng'ambi and David Masugu keeping goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa on his toes.
Ndulula had the first chance of the second half, but his penalty-area shot lacked power and direction, and Leopards recovered to take a shock lead nine minutes after the break. Robyn Johannes fouled Ramagalela on the edge of the box and Mongezi Bobe saw his low free-kick strike one Orlando player before Mahamutsa conceded an own goal by deflecting the ball past Meyiwa.
The outsiders held the advantage for 18 minutes before Pirates scored twice within four minutes to turn the tide and prevent Leopards from becoming the first second-tier club to lift the trophy. Chansa levelled with an unstoppable close-range shot and when Maphaha misjudged a deep Andile Jali cross, the ball rebounded off a post and the diving Mbuyane headed home.
Mbuyane rifled the ball into the net from close range with one minute left after a Pirates counter-attack caught out Leopards and ensured Pirates won the cup.