Zimbabwean Arubi stars as TTM stun Sundowns to reach final
Johannesburg (AFP) –
Former Zimbabwe goalkeeper Washington Arubi starred as TTM stunned Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday by winning a penalty shootout to reach the South African FA Cup final.
The clash between the league leaders and relegation candidates ended 0-0 after extra time in Pretoria and the rank outsiders won 6-5 on spot kicks.
TTM are third from bottom in the Premiership and will face the club immediately beneath them, Chippa United, in a May 8 final no one expected.
Chippa edged second-tier Pretoria Callies 1-0 on Saturday in the other semi-final through an opportunist Sandile Mthethwa goal.
Arubi, a 35-year-old who joined TTM last year after time with four clubs in Zimbabwe and three in South Africa, made a string of superb saves in regular and extra time.
Then, his brilliant dive to block a Hlompho Kekana penalty won the shootout for the team beaten 3-1 at home by Sundowns just 12 days ago in the league.
Losing on penalties dashed Sundowns' hopes of a CAF Champions League-Premiership-FA Cup treble this year. They have reached the Champions League quarter-finals and lead the Premiership by six points.
The outcome was the biggest shock of the season, especially as Sundowns had been superb when crushing Orlando Pirates 4-1 in a midweek quarter-final.
Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena labelled the clash with Pirates "the final before the final" -- a boast that backfired.
Fellow coach Manqoba Mngqithi hailed Arubi, calling him "one of the best goalkeepers in South African football".
"Washington really showed his quality. He was on top of his game, making outstanding saves when goals seem inevitable.
"We played well but it just was not our day so congratulations to TTM. They never stopped harassing us and defended impressively."
As TTM and Chippa prepare for FA Cup final debuts, they will eye not only the seven million rand ($490,000/410,000 euros) first prize but also qualification for the 2021-2022 CAF Confederation Cup.
Chippa put aside their relegation worries temporarily to pip Callies, who were hoping to become the fourth second division club to reach the final.
The only goal came from an unlikely source as centre-back Mthethwa punished a failed attempt to clear the ball from the box by slamming it into the net on 63 minutes.
Introducing Liberian Anthony Laffor and Cameroonian Bienvenu Eva Nga at half-time worked well for Chippa in a cup tie that rarely rose above the ordinary.
© 2021 AFP