No matter how hard they try Orlando Pirates always come second in the Telkom Knockout and it was no different here on Saturday night when they lost 3-2 on penalties to Baroka FC, who made history by becoming the first Limpopo side to win a domestic topflight cup competition.
The spot kicks were needed to separate the two sides following a 2-2 draw after two hours of a thriller in the Eastern Cape.
Jemondre Dickens put Bakgaga in the lead just before the break and Musa Nyatama replied for the Buccaneers in the second half to force extra time.
Baroka skipper Mduduzi Mdantsane converted a penalty to restore their lead, but Thembinkosi Lorch had the last say in extra time and it was down to penalties to decide the winner, with Baroka taking the R4m prize.
Pirates got R1.5m for their efforts. They were heavy favourites to end their four-year silverware drought, but the League Cup has over the years eluded the Buccaneers and it proved to be yet another heartbreak for them.
Pirates were making their ninth final appearance in this competition and only have one victory, which was against Bidvest Wits seven years ago.
In their maiden appearance in the decider, Baroka made it count. The boys from Ga-Mphahlele were not given much of a chance despite knocking out the defending champions Wits in the last four and also saw off Sundowns in the quarterfinals.
Baroka also came into the clash without having conceded a goal on their way to the final. With mostly Pirates supporters dominating the stands – almost 40,000 tickets were snapped up, the Soweto side enjoyed a good start and Baroka sat back, absorbed the pressure, but were nearly caught out a few times.
But things started to unravel for Bucs just a few minutes before the interval.
Seemingly on top and Baroka very much on the backfoot, Pirates defender Marshall Munetsi ruined it all with an ill-timed challenge on Dickens almost at the halfway mark of the field, where there was no danger for Pirates to concede.
Referee on the day Victor Gomes took out a yellow initially, but was called to the side by his assistant Emmanuel De Sani.
When Gomes returned to the field after the brief consultation, he changed his mind and gave Munetsi his marching orders.
Bucs mentor Micho Sredojevic’s reaction – hands on the head, suggested the writing was on the wall for the Soweto side.
Pirates had done everything they could to get a goal and had Baroka were chasing the shadows for the better part of the first half, but Munetsi’s moment of madness turned the game on its head.
While Pirates were still pondering what’s next and still not 100% focused on the job at hand, even their goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was caught unawares.
Mpontshane came out for a cross and followed the ball while the best option could have been to stand on his line and let the defenders do their job, but he kept going and missed the ball, which was headed back to where he came from and Baroka’s Dickens fired home to give his side the lead.