Frederick Nsabiyumva stunned the treble-chasing Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday to give Chippa United something to celebrate, with the dreaded axe looming large over them.
The relegation-threatened Chilli Boys knocked out the Brazilians 2-1 in the Nedbank Cup’s last-32 in an entertaining contest at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The lanky centreback rose high in the last minute of optional time to give Chippa a morale-boosting win, which should give them confidence in their aim to avoid the drop.
The Brazilians might be disappointed with this loss, but it was a blessing in disguise, as they have a gruelling schedule until May.
The Brazilians host AmaZulu on Tuesday in the league and three days later, Asec Mimosas will visit Atteridgeville in the Caf Champions League.
Nsabiyumva’s winning goal ‘saved’ Sundowns from adding to their schedule and also prevented an extra 30 minutes of extra time.
But the Chilli Boys didn’t come here to do anyone any favours – they came with the intention of keeping their winning run under new coach Clinton Larsen.
The former Golden Arrows coach kept the same starting XI that beat Maritzburg United 2-0.
The Brazilians, on the other hand, made six changes to the XI that defeated Highlands Park in midweek.
Pitso Mosimane rested a number of key players, with a hectic week on the horizon for the Brazilians.
But just because the league and the Champions League are their main priorities doesn’t mean that they took the Nedbank Cup lightly.
They still fielded a competitive squad, and on Thursday, Mosimane spoke about winning this cup so that his team would continue their trend of winning a trophy in every year he has been in charge of them.
Those plans came crashing down at the hands of a hungry Chippa United.
Mosimane’s plans to rest some key players was also derailed by the injury of Andile Jali just after halftime.
Hlompho Kekana’s “day off” was short-lived, with the skipper being called into action.
The Chilli Boys were braced for a fight. They dominated the early exchanges, which saw them take the lead before the visitors had even settled.
Rhulani Manzini put his team ahead with a thunderbolt from a set-piece that was played into his path by Kurt Lentjies.
Chippa pushed hard for a second, but were let down by their misfiring ways in front of goal.
Phakamani Mahlambi made them pay with a well-taken equaliser.
The former Al Ahly forward pounced on a brilliantly played diagonal pass from Gaston Sirino. He showed what he learned in his time with the Egyptian giants by converting from an acute angle.
If his teammates were as clinical as him, Sundowns would have wrapped up the match way before Nsabiyumva made them pay.
Sundowns missed a number of opportunities to put their name in the last-16.
— Chippa United FC (@ChippaUnitedFC) January 26, 2019
Larsen pounced on Sundowns’ desperation to end the match within regulation time, so as to avoid two hours of energy-sapping football.
Chippa hit Sundowns with a sucker punch late into the game, when Nsabiyumva headed home a corner.
This victory will give the Port Elizabeth-based side confidence that they can avoid relegation.