FREE State Stars stunned Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane last night, progressing to the Nedbank Cup semifinals with a 1-0 victory over the Soweto giants.
Stars’ superior strategy in the fixture came full circle with a 60th-minute winner from a Dove Wome header with the Chiefs defence poorly positioned.
It was Ea Lla Kkoto’s second upset in the competition, having beaten defending champions Orlando Pirates in the previous round.
The Bethlehem outfit controlled the goalless first half, showing more cohesion than the pre-game favourites.
Stars attempted to close the hosts down while making calculated forward surges that easily penetrated the Chiefs defence.
Amakhosi were brilliant in patches, especially when talisman captain Siphiwe Tshabalala had the ball.
The home side were disjointed in their first match under caretaker coach Ace Khuse after the club parted ways with Serb Vladimir Vermezovic earlier in the week.
Chiefs forced the first chance of the match, however, with Tefu Mashamaite finding himself in the box to meet Tshabalala’s cross, but he fired wide in the sixth minute.
Their next best opportunity came in the 22nd minute after a break from midfielder Willard Katsande who drew a save from Kennedy Mweene in the Stars goal.
Stars dangerman Edward Manqele found his side’s first meaningful shot seconds later after a well worked move, though he missed wide.
Manqele then combined well with Mpho Makola, but his snap was pushed wide by Chiefs goalkeeper Arthur Bartman after 31 minutes.
Shortly before the break, Makola’s cross on the right flank found Ayanda Gcaba, with the defender’s header going over the bar.
Chiefs took control early in the second half as former Stars player S’thembiso Ngcobo drew a splendid reflex save from Mweene after a quick ball from Tshabalala.
This put them in the driving seat momentarily as Tshabalala also fashioned a free kick on the edge of the box that sailed narrowly over the bar.
Bartman then pulled off a stunning save, using his right foot to deny Mzikayise Mashaba near the hour mark, before the visitors took the lead.
Stars continued to put Chiefs on the back foot before Tshabalala nearly levelled matters for the Glamour side against the run of play in the 76th minute.
Chiefs were desperate for an equaliser as they brought on Josta Dladla, Mthokozisi Yende and Kaizer Motaung Junior in the final 15 minutes of the encounter.
Ngcobo attempted to meet Tshabalala’s cross in the dying moments but finished wide as the feisty Free Staters held on.
The disciplined Stars outfit joined Mamelodi Sundowns in the last four with two more fixtures to be played on Sunday.-Sapa