Free State Stars’ Harris Tchilimbou scored a first-half brace to see his side claim a famous 2-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night and advance into the Nedbank Cup final.
The result sees Ea Lla Koto move into their first final since 1999 (when they were beaten to the Rothmans Cup trophy by Mamelodi Sundowns), while the Amakhosi will go trophyless for a third successive season under beleaguered coach Steve Komphela.
Stars got off to the perfect start and claimed the lead inside the opening 45 seconds, with Nyiko Mobbie providing a great cross from the right to find the unmarked Harris Tchilimbou, who easily headed home to make it 1-0 to the Free Staters.
Chiefs looked for a quick response, with Ryan Moon missing with two headed efforts from promising chances, while in the 11th minute the Soweto giants opened up the visitors’ defence to put Joseph Molangoane in on goal, but goalkeeper Thela Ngobeni came quickly off his line to close the winger down.
Ea Lla Koto continued to look dangerous in attack and on 34 minutes they doubled their advantage with a goal of similar style: this time it was left-back Patrick Phungwayo who provided a cross which was poorly judged by Daniel Cardoso, allowing Tchilimbou to chest the ball down before poking a shot past Itumeleng Khune for 2-0.
The Amakhosi almost pulled a goal back on the stroke of halftime, with Bernard Parker nodding a right-wing cross back toward the near post, but the ball drifted narrowly wide of the target and was also just beyond the outstretched foot of Moon.
Stars wasted chances on the counter attack early in the second half, with wide men Sinethemba Jantjie and Goodman Dlamini both guilty of rushing their shots with only Khune to beat, while Chiefs halftime substitute Leonardo Castro contrived to head wide when completely unmarked in the 53rd minute.
The team in gold and black missed another wonderful chance in the 66th minute, as another sub, Dumisani Zuma, did great work to pull a low cross back from the left by-line, allowing Hendrick Ekstein a clear sight of goal from just a few metres out but he sent his shot almost straight at Ngobeni.
Chiefs continued to knock on the door and had another opportunity for Ekstein in the 78th minute, but again the Ea Lla Koto goalkeeper was on hand to deny the midfielder and keep his side in charge of the cup tie.
Stars held out to claim victory and will face either Mamelodi Sundowns or Maritzburg United – who meet in the second semifinal on Sunday afternoon – in the final on May 19 at Cape Town Stadium.
Kaizer Chiefs 0
Free State Stars 2
Tchilimbou 1’ 34’
Chiefs: Khune, Cardoso, Mathoho, Masilela (Castro 46’), Molangoane, Katsande, Ekstein, Zulu (Zuma 38’), Tshabalala, Moon (Mphahlele 65’), Parker
Stars: Ngobeni, Mobbie, Mahamutsa, Keita, Phungwayo, Dlamini, Vilakazi, Masehe, Jantjie (Mashego 78’), Tchilimbou (Teyise 80’), Mthembu (Anas 90+3’)