All eyes were fixed at Orlando Stadium when two of South Africa’s big guns faced off in the second Nedbank Cup semifinal with Mamelodi Sundowns narrowly beating Bidvest Wits 3-2 to secure a place in the final.
Coach Pitso Mosimane’s charges made five changes from their quarter-final victory over Highlands Park bringing in Mosa Lebusa, Rivaldo Coetzee, Sphelele Mkhulise and Nicholus Lukhubeni while Wits gave goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo a rare start.
The Clever Boys dominated the opening exchanges getting close to netting their first goal in the 12th minute after goalkeeper Denis Onyango spilled Deon Hotto’s long range shot into the path of Cole Alexander, who guided the strike wide and high.
Masandawana slowly got into the game with a good chance to snatch the lead in the 22nd minute after Zwane stole possession high up the pitch, linked up with Sibusiso Vilakazi and went clear on goal on the edge of the box however the striker landed straight into Mhlongo’s hands.
The game slowed down towards the half-hour mark but the Tshwane giants had a glorious chance to break the deadlock ten minutes before the break after Buhle Mkhwanazi brought down Motjeka Madisha in the box with the referee awarding a penalty which was taken by Ricardo Nascimento giving Downs the opening goal.
The Braamfontein-based club was fired up in search of the equalizer in the first stanza but they could not build any threatening momentum to get back in the contest before the break.
The Students were in search of a game-changer as Kgaogelo Sekgota made way for Rowan Human with Zitha Macheke coming in for Lorenzo Gordinho.
Gavin Hunt’s changes almost paid off instantly after Hotto ran onto a through ball from Alexander, however, Onyango denied the Namibian inside 52 minutes.
Wits dangerman Terrence Dzvukamanja robbed Madisha off possession to go clear with Onyango before finding the far corner in the final 12 minute, however, the game got more interesting as Sundowns restored parity with nine minutes to go when Keletso Makgalwa slotted into an empty net.
Dzvukamanja restored the Students again after getting around Madisha before finding the bottom corner and the Brazilians had the last laugh through Lyle Lakay who scored a finisher in added time securing Masandawana’s final place.
Sundowns: Onyango, Lukhubeni, Lebusa, Nascimento, Madisha, Coetzee, Mkhulise, Kekana, Vilakazi, Zwane, Maboe.
Subs: Mweene, Lakay, Mkhuma, Mabunda, Meza, Jali, Langerman, Makgalwa,Arendse.
Wits: Mhlongo; Hlanti, Mkhwanazi, Gordinho, Hlatshwayo, Alexander, Nange, Domingo, Sekgota, Hotto, Dzvukamanja.
Subs: Prince, Eva Nga, Macheke, Ritchie, Macuphu, Khunyedi, Human, Mathebula, September.