Orlando Pirates striker Zakhele Lepasa has rubbished allegations made by Sundowns head coach Rhukani Mokwena that he clapped his teammate Tapelo Xoki, when the defender made a career ending tackle on Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Haashim Domingo during the Carling Black Label Cup final at FNB Stadium last Saturday. Masandawana gave the Buccaneers a 4-0 drubbing in the final of the one-day Beer Cup tournament.
Sundowns head coach Rhulani Mokwena claimed that Lepasa, alongside his teammates, clapped for Xoki as he was walking down the tunnel after receiving an early shower. The alleged clapping incident was what let to Pirates forward Kermit Erasmus and Mokwena to have a heated exchange on the touch line.
Lepasa has now come out to set the record straight regarding the touch line altercation, and insisted that Xoki did not intend to cause any harm on Domingo.
“I would like to put it on record that I did not encourage my teammate Tapelo Xoki for kicking an opponent. It is factually incorrect that I, or any of my teammates at that moment, would do that,” Lepasa said on his Twitter page.
“I stood up to console my teammate because I know how important this game was to him. I understand that football is an emotional game and at the time everyone’s emotions were high. But I know for a fact that his act was not intentional.
“I would like to wish Domingo a speedy recovery and all the best for the future,” Lepasa concluded.
The 25-year-old forward has also suffered a career threatening injury two years ago. Lepasa returned to full fitness at the start of the 2022/23 DStv Premiership, where he managed to have a full pre-season with the team under José Riviero. Lepasa is currently in the Hugo Broos 23-man Bafana Bafana squad that will face Angola and Mozambique in friendly matches, set to take place on the 18th and 20th of November at Mbombela Stadium. Simba as he’s affectionately known in the football fraternity, has scored one goal and assisted one goal after 12 games played by him in all competitions so far.