MAMELODI Sundowns booked their place in the final of the 2012 Nedbank Cup after beating 10-man Free State Stars 2-0 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night, with Richard Henyekane and Nyasha Mushekwi scoring the goals.
The Brazilians will face the winner of Sunday’s second semifinal between SuperSport United and AmaZulu in the final at Orlando Stadium on May 26.
Ea Lla Koto, having knocked out both Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs earlier in the competition, would have been confident of giving ‘Downs a real run for their money, but the fact that they had to play for 70 minutes with just 10 men counted heavily against them.
After a relatively quiet start, the match came to life in the 20th minute when Stars’ Dove Wome drove his studs into the knee of Esrom Nyandoro, leaving referee Jerome Damon no choice but to show the Togolese forward a straight red card.
Down to ten men, the visitors were always going to struggle to keep themselves in the game and it took six minutes of the Brazilians playing with a numerical advantage before they opened the scoring.
Nyasha Mushekwi sprinted down the left flank, held off two defenders and provided a brilliant low cross that goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene couldn’t cut out, leaving former Golden Arrows forward Richard Henyekane the easy task of steering the ball into an almost unguarded net.
Just past the half hour mark Mushekwi made it 2-0, finding space in-between Stars’ centre-backs before sweeping home a pin-point pass from left-back Punch Masenamela to put Mamelodi Sundowns very much in charge of the match.
The Zimbabwean striker thought he had added to his side’s advantage just five minutes later when he steered another shot beyond the reach of Mweene, but he was flagged offside. Television replays suggested it was the correct decision from match officials.
Teko Modise very nearly scored the Brazilians’ third goal just a couple of minutes before halftime, but a superb reaction save from Mweene ensured the score remained at 2-0 heading into the interval.
The Zambian ‘keeper came up with another terrific stop on the hour mark, this time to deny Henyekane, while a couple of minutes later Stars had their first shot in anger when Paulus Masehe pulled the trigger from long range but saw his effort skew high and wide of the target.
That was all the visitors offered in attack, even though coach Steve Komphela introduced an extra attacker off the bench in the shape of Boitumelo Sekgobela. Sundowns easily saw out the match to book a place in the final of a competition they last won in 2008.
Mamelodi Sundowns (2) 2 (Henyekane 26’, Mushekwi 31’)
Free State Stars 0
Sundowns: Sandilands; Maponyane, Xulu (Mwanjale 90+1’), Daniels, Masenamela, Modise, Moriri, Nyandoro, Shongwe (Zwane 72’), Mushekwi (Mphela 83’), Henyekane
Stars: Mweene; Makola, Sadate, Gege, Gcaba, Mashaba (Sekgobela 70’), Masehe, Wiltwer, Mashego, Wome, Manqele.-Backpgepix