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Rise of the giants

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A fantastic free kick from the edge of the box ended up being the match's solitary strike

WINNER: Baroka FCs Matome Mabeba celebrates what turned out to be the winning goal against Bidvest Wits in yesterdays Telkom Knockout semi-final at Peter Mokaba Stadium. Picture: Abbey Sebetha Bakone Pix

Baroka FC 1

Mabeba (8)

Bidvest Wits 0

NO Longer giant-killers but giants now.

That was the word from Baroka coach Wedson Nyirenda after he guided the Limpopo outfit to their maiden cup final appearance with a victory over the Telkom Knockout defending champions.

It was a case of third time lucky for Baroka who were beaten in two previous semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

Matome Mabeba scored on eight minutes with a fantastic free kick from the edge of the box and while it seemed that it was too early for the goal to be the decider, it ended up being the match’s solitary strike.

Not that there were no other chances. There were plenty of those, one of them coming on 74 minutes for Baroka to make it 2-0. But incredibly, captain Mdantsane side-footed the ball wide after a champagne square pass from Talent Chapawiwa set him one-on-one with Darren Keet.

The Wits goalkeeper had actually kept his team in the game in the first half with two brilliant saves.

First he denied Tebogo Sodi on the half-hour mark following good build-up play by the home side.

Five minutes later Keet again showed his quality when he tipped over a goalbound shot from the self same Sodi as Baroka piled on the pressure.

Wits should have equalised immediately after Mabeba’s goal as they attacked from the restart. But a move which saw Vuyo Mere deliver a good cross into the box was thwarted by goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze who made a fabulous reaction save to stop Cole Alexander’s header.

As expected, Gavin Hunt’s team were the more attacking side after the break after numerous changes that included the introduction of Simon Murray.

The ginger-haired striker and fellow substitute both wasted opportunities that left Hunt livid on the touchline.

Murray headed a few attempts over and wide while Mutupa incredibly stabbed a cross wide with the keeper at his mercy.

There was also an opportunity for Lehlohonolo Nonyane, but he lofted over the keeper from close range with no less than three of his teammates free on his right.

In the end though it was Baroka celebrating wildly, with Nyirenda justifying his lofty billing as a super coach who delivers by taking the team to their maiden final.

The Zambian legend could not hold his excitement: “I am excited but that ends today because we have to start thinking of the final. We did what we needed to do and then managed the game.”

They now face Orlando Pirates in the final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on December 8.