Fernandez recalls epic finale
Fernandez recalls epic finale

Posted in Features, News on May 05, 2023.

Prior to this season, on only one previous occasion in PSL history have Kaizer Chiefs headed into a cup game against Orlando Pirates having already completed a league double against them. That was back in the 2005-06 season. After winning their league games against Pirates home and away for the first time in the PSL era that season, Chiefs had the opportunity to win a third game against Pirates when the teams met in the final of the Absa Cup, as the Nedbank Cup was known back then.

Chiefs goalkeeper at the time, Rowen Fernandez, was the hero in the final, as Chiefs won a 12th Nedbank Cup title. When asked about the game, Fernandez was quick to quip, “it was a good 17 years ago!”. He then jogged his memory, saying, “I recall saving Isaac Chansa’s penalty in the shoot-out very well”.

Fernandez continued to bring up memories from the game Chiefs won on penalties after extra time, recounting, “They had control of the game and were all over us in the first 30 minutes. They hit the post and we had to ride out the early pressure.”

The now 45-year-old was key to keeping Chiefs in the game, with strong Pirates offense running riot “A lot of people tell me I made important saves in the early moments of the game. I watched the game back a couple of times, and you do what you have to do to keep your team in the match,” he said.

Fernandez was quick to point out that on that occasion Chiefs used the vast experience of their senior members of the team to keep calm. “We had players like Arthur Zwane, John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, Fabian McCarthy and Thabo Mooki. They were key in keeping the younger guys stay calm and keep the shape of the team as well, so that we did not let the game get away from ourselves”.

In the second half of the tense encounter, Chiefs managed to get more involved in the match and were unfortunate not to have won the game inside 90 minutes, before the game headed to extra time and, eventually, penalties.

“We defeated Sundowns in the semifinal on penalties, so we were confident heading into the shoot-out”, Fernandez divulged.

In the shoot- out, David Radebe and Thabo Mooki converted Chiefs’ first two penalties, while Lucas Thwala converted Pirates’ first spot kick. Fernandez saved their second, stopping Isaac Chansa from levelling at 2-2. David Obua put Chiefs 3-1 up, with Innocent Mdledle pulling it back to 3-2. Patrick Mayo made it 4-2, before Lebogang Mokoena made it 4-3 to keep the Buccaneers alive.

Fernandez was handed Chiefs’ fifth penalty and slotted the ball home to win Chiefs the title, of which he said, “A penalty shoot-out is all about confidence. We were very confident, and we practised a lot of penalties. Whether you need to score a penalty or save one, just be confident”.

Fernandez and his Chiefs team of 2005-06 were the first Chiefs team in the PSL Era to notch up three wins against Pirates in the same season. The feat was repeated in 2019-20 when Chiefs won a Telkom Knockout Cup tie over Pirates on penalties and then completed a league double over them. Can Amakhosi repeat the feat for a third time since 1996-97?

Tickets for the match are no longer available. The match starts at 15:00.

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