How Wits and Sun­downs found their way to Nel­spruit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

WITS and Mamelodi Sun­downs will con­test the MTN8 fi­nal at the Mbombela Sta­dium to­day (5pm kick­off). NJABULO NGIDI looks at their road to Nel­spruit... Wits Quar­ter-finals Wits 2-1 Or­lando Pi­rates, Au­gust 27. Goals: Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thu­lani Hlatshwayo. THE STU­DENTS started the sea­son in style with wins over the Soweto giants in their first two matches, send­ing a strong mes­sage to the other con­tenders. They beat Kaizer Chiefs in the league be­fore knock­ing Pi­rates out of the MTN8.

While peo­ple focused on goal­keeper Felipe Ovono’s mis­takes in con­ced­ing both goals, they for­get Wits’ dom­i­nant dis­play to pin the Buc­ca­neers back.

They didn’t al­low Tendai Ndoro space to make his dan­ger­ous runs, while the cen­tral mid­field pair of Xola Mlambo and Tha­bang Monare neu­tralised the likes of Pi­rates’ Oupa Many­isa. Semi-finals First leg: Wits 3-0 Cape Town City, Septem­ber 10. Goals: Eleazar Rodgers, Elias Pelembe and Gabad­inho Mhango. Sec­ond leg: City 0-0 Wits, Septem­ber 17. Wits won 3-0 on ag­gre­gate. IT took a blis­ter­ing first half from Wits to book their place in the fi­nal. They went into half­time of the first leg lead­ing 3-0, end­ing the match as a con­test.

The way they bossed City off the park meant that when the Clever Boys trav­elled to the Mother City, it was just a sight-see­ing ex­pe­di­tion.

Gavin Hunt showed how much he wanted to win the MTN8 tro­phy when he rested key play­ers for a trip to Polokwane City that was sand­wiched between these two legs.

Hunt wouldn’t or­di­nar­ily do that, as he be­lieves a sign of a good team is how they fare in the league. But he des­per­ately wants to end a six-year wait to lift sil­ver­ware again. Mamelodi Sun­downs Quar­ter-finals Sun­downs 3-1 Su­per­Sport United, Au­gust 28. Goals: Wayne Arendse, Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi and Khama Bil­liat. THE Tsh­wane derby might not have the same num­ber of fans or il­lus­tri­ous his­tory as the Soweto derby, but it’s miles ahead in terms of en­ter­tain­ment and goals. This year, it added drama to the mix when the Brazil­ians fought with Mat­sat­santsa on who will use the bench on the right.

Su­per­Sport won the fight but Sun­downs won the war, thump­ing their neigh­bours 3-1.

When Downs scored their sec­ond goal, they knocked the wind out of Mat­sat­santsa. Semi-finals First leg: Chippa United 0-0 Sun­downs, Septem­ber 11. Sec­ond leg: Sun­downs 1-0 Chippa, Septem­ber 21. Goal: Anthony Laf­for. Sun­downs won 1-0 on ag­gre­gate. THESE two legs were a good ad­ver­tise­ment as well as a sad in­dict­ment on lo­cal football. There was plenty of en­ter­tain­ment from both teams, es­pe­cially the Chilli Boys who dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion.

But there were no goals in the first leg and it took a Laf­for sr­tike in the sec­ond with 15 min­utes left to de­cide the out­come.

The dif­fer­ence in this match was ex­pe­ri­ence. Chippa were play­ing in their first semi-fi­nal, while Downs had lost count of how many they have con­tested un­der coach Pitso Mosi­mane.

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