Rustenburg – Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Maluleka’s brace secured a 2-0 victory over Platinum Stars in the MTN8 semifinal, first leg, at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday.
The first goal came in the 51st minute after Maluleka latched onto a loose ball in the penalty box and his second was a pinpoint freekick in the 90th minute to put the game to rest.
Amakhosi entered the cup clash on the back of a four-goal mauling of Mpumalanga Black Aces in the first round of the MTN8 to qualify for the semi-final a fortnight ago.
Stars overcame defending Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 away from home to set up the encounter.
Maluleka, who has come into his own since joining the club eight months ago, displayed his growing armoury as an attacking threat.
The Tembisa-born ace was the first to get sight of goal but his header in the 12th minute from a corner kick glanced over the crossbar.
Maluleka was gifted another chance with the Stars defence carved open but his side-footed shot was waywardly miscued.
The first clear goal-scoring opportunity for Stars fell to winger Tintswalo Tshabalala, whose glancing header forced a brilliant save out of Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune in the 16th minute.
Stars striker Ndumiso Mabena proved to be a menacing figure for the Chiefs defence, with his industrious style of play.
Amakhosi appeared to be lacking in synergy in central defence, with Eric Mathoho and Tefu Mashamaite struggling to contain the opposition attacking threat.
In the 21st minute Mabena broke free from Mathoho, but blasted his shot agonisingly over the target.
In-form Chiefs midfielder Mandla Masango looked to continue his impressive run of performances on the half-hour mark but his shot at goal on the flank sailed into the rafters.
George Lebese kept Stars defender Tshepo Gumede on his toes with his dribbling wizardry, and in the 55th minute created an opening for Masango who found himself in some space.
However, Masango was beaten to the ball by Stars captain Vuyo Mere who made an excellent clearing tackle.
Mabena, who had given Chiefs problems in the first half, took a knock to the head just before the interval.
In the second half, the patched-up striker was not as effective as the injury clearly played a factor in his form.
Stars midfielder Solomon Mathe squared-off against Chiefs midfield cog Reneilwe Letsholonyane where much of the action took place in the match.
The tough tackling Mathe took no prisoners in the centre of the field and he, in the end, was fortunate not to get red-carded after two mis-timed tackles on Maluleka and Letsholonyane. – Sapa