Bidvest Wits defeated Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 to book their spot in the Telkom Knockout final at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday afternoon, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Wits booked their spot in the last four of the competition after seeing off Free State Stars 4-2 in the quarter-finals, while Chiefs picked up a comfortable 3-0 victory against AmaZulu.
Wits XI: 1. Keet, 7. Klate, 8. Monare, 10. Gamal, 13.Hlanti, 15. Mkhwanazi, 19. Mlambo, 24. Tlhone, 28. Keene, 33. Frosler, 41. Ntshangase.
Chiefs XI: 32. Khune, 4. Cardoso, 3. Mathoho, 30. Ngezana, 22. Zulu, 31. Katsande, 12. Maluleka, 38. Meyiwa, 14. Tshabalala, 23. Molongoane, 25. Parker.
The home side started the stronger of the two teams and signalled their intent to attack, launching long balls towards the attacking combination of Amr Gamal and James Keene.
Gamal almost broke the lead in fine fashion in the seventh minute after mesmerising Eric Mathoho in the area, but his subsequent effort was kept out by Itumeleng Khune.
Chiefs appeared content to sit back and playing on the counter-attack and were almost rewarded for their efforts in the 23rd minute, but Mathoho’s header sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
The visitors were reduced to ten men when Wiseman Meyiwa was given his marching orders for stamping on Daine Klate’s ankle.
Wits immediately capitalised on the numerical advantage and took the lead when Phumlani Ntshangase’s aerial ball was headed down by Buhle Mhkwanazi, Gama being on hand to expertly head home.
Chiefs knocked on the door and looked dangerous when playing on the counter despite their numerical disadvantage, and almost got the equaliser through an audacious effort by George Maluleka from within his own half, but his shot went over the bar with Keet well-beaten.
Steve Komphela signalled his attacking intent as he introduced Gustavo Paez for Daniel Cardoso. Wits continued where they left off in the first half. Gamal came agonisingly close to doubling the lead after almost getting on to the end of Reeve Frosler’s enticing ball into the area.
The Soweto giants continued to look dangerous with their counter-attacking strategy. Komphela injected more pace in the lineup when he brought on Dumisani Zuma for Bernard Parker.
Zuma almost had an immediate impact, but his snap-shot from inside the area went just wide of the post. Wits made their first change when veteran midfielder Steven Pienaar was brought on for Daine Klate.
Keet produced a sublime save to keep his side in the lead in the final ten minutes of the clash. Hendrick Ekstein was brought on for Philani Zulu late on, but could not help his side find a goal as Wits ran out 1-0 victors to book their spot in the Telkom Knockout final.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix