JOHANNESBURG: Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns reached the South African League Cup final on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with contrasting results.
Chiefs pipped archrivals Orlando Pirates 6-5 on penalties before a 70,000 crowd at Soccer City stadium in Soweto after 120 goalless minutes.
Four hours later, Sundowns cruised to a 3-1 semi-final victory over title-holders SuperSport United in Pretoria with Colombian Leonardo Castro among the scorers.
A final that brings together two of the best-supported football clubs in the republic is scheduled for December 16 at a venue to be announced.
Chiefs, desperate to put behind them a 3-1 league hiding from Pirates last weekend, gave a much improved performance in a tight game with both sides enjoying spells of superiority.
Brilliant Khuzwayo, a late replacement for injured Itumeleng Khune as Chiefs’ goalkeeper, excelled and collected the man-of-the-match award.
The shootout was won and lost when Lucky Baloyi converted for Chiefs and Siyabonga Sangweni struck the crossbar for Pirates.
It was the fourth League Cup shoot¬out between the most popular South African football clubs since 1975—Chiefs have won them all.
“We rectified the mistakes made last weekend,” said Chiefs coach Steve Komphela after leading his club into a second cup final this season.
“It was a difficult, nerve-wracking match that took a heavy physical toll on both teams.”
Pirates coach Eric Tinkler said: “The fact that Chiefs’ goalkeeper was the man-of-the-match says a lot about our performance.
“We failed to take our chances, especially a one-on-one situation. Playing a sixth game in 17 days proved physically challenging and we were flat at times.”
Sundowns made it eight victories in an unbeaten nine-match run in all competitions by outplaying SuperSport, who meekly surrendered the title at Lucas ‘Masterpieces’ Moripe Stadium.
Recent Sundowns signing Castro scored his first goal on 10 minutes only for David Mathebula to level soon after off a brilliantly executed free-kick.
Thabo Nthethe claimed his first goal of the season to put Sundowns back in front on 62 minutes and a dazzling run and low shot from Bongani Zungu sealed success with 10 minutes left.