By Sports Reporter
MAMELODI Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi described former Zimbabwe Warriors goalkeeper Washington Arubi as ‘one of the best goalkeepers in the country’ after the Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila goalkeeper produced heroics to send the holders crashing out of the Nedbank Cup on penalties.
The 35-year-old veteran Zimbabwean goalkeeper produced a heroic performance which sent TTM into the Nedbank Cup semi-finals at the expense of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Arubi was simply impressive for the Limpopo-based side in a contest which eventually ended 6-5 in the penalty shootout.
After almost single-handedly denying Sundowns the win in regulation and extra time, Arubi was yet again in the penalty shoot-out when he brilliantly saved Hlompho Kekana’s firmly-struck spot-kick towards the top right-hand corner.
Mngqithi was full of praise for the Zimbabwean shot-stopper and was surprised he had to go down a division to get a team in recent years.
“We expected a very tough match because they are a very good team,” the Masandawana mentor told SuperSport TV.
“Don’t take them lightly. But I think credit today should be given to their goalkeeper. Washington was on top of his game today. He made some outstanding saves in areas where you thought he was dead and buried and he came out.
“I want to believe we tried to push them as much as we could. We created good moments. We had some calls where we think we could have got something out of them but in football, you must always accept some of these things happening.
“We lost a game that I believed we played very well but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and they must be congratulated. They put up a very good fight and defended very well.
“And it was always going to be tough for us considering we had another tough match on Monday. Be that as it may, we fought very hard. We pushed them. We created scoring opportunities. Washington was just there at the end of every ball and no wonder he was the man of the match.
“We don’t have a chance. We have to pick ourselves up. We have another tough one again on Wednesday. It is important for us to come back quicker and not slumber. We’re a big team. We’ve got the personnel. We were unfortunate today in that some of our key players had to pull out at the 11th hour – Denis and Mosa. But the truth must be told. We never really struggled in that regard. Because they made our life very difficult.
“I’ve always liked Arubi. I’ve always believed he’s a very good goalkeeper. And today he really showed his quality. And I am sure there are many other teams looking at him differently because he’s always been a good goalkeeper. I was wondering why he had to slump down to NFD because he has always been one of the best goalkeepers in the country.”
The Mutare-born goalkeeper has been enjoying a new lease of life at his new club after enduring two seasons of very little game time at Kaitano Tembo-coached SuperSport United.
The star was temporarily left homeless after Matsatsantsa decided against renewing his contract before being handed a lifeline by TTM.