DURBAN - Chippa United defender Sandile Mthethwa scored a rare goal to help his side reach the final of this season’s Nedbank Cup following a 1-0 win over Pretoria Callies at the Lucas Masterclass Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday afternoon.
The 24-year-old Mthethwa punished Callies, who committed their first error of the game against the run of play following a defensive error from Aupa Moeketsi.
The win was not easily earned and this was displayed by the fact that Chippa looked to defend immediately after taking the lead as they brought on defender Gregory Damons.
Chippa’s lack of confidence caused by their poor league form was present throughout most of the game.
Callies went into the half-time break the happier of the two sides as their high-press make Chippa look vulnerable and the Chilli Boys were also unable to exert sustained periods of attacking play against their opponents who play in the National First Division.
Thabiso Lebitso spurned a golden opportunity to put Chippa in the lead as early as the seventh minute as he ended up getting his footing wrong which comically appeared as though he was running away from the ball when all he had to do was slot it past Callies keeper Itumeleng Lesu.
In the defence of Lebitso, he did appear to have been offside, so perhaps he anticipated that the flag would be raised?
Six minutes later, Lebitso tried to make amends by attempting to score a stunner from outside the box. His effort was not bad but was wide.
Experienced Callies forward William Twala could have put the National First Division side ahead in the 18th minute after Thabo Moloi played a ball towards him though he struck the ball with his weaker foot and it was a poor effort overall.
Twala again tried his luck in the 26th minute his effort was much better this time as he forced a save from Chippa’s Ugandan keeper Ismail Watenga who is one of the candidates to now take over as Uganda national team first-choice goalkeeper following the recent retirement of Mamelodi Sundowns keeper Dennis Onyango.
After going behind, Callies did not throw in the towel and nearly drew level in the 73rd minute as Keorapetse Sebone picked out Pogiso Mahlangu with a cross though the latter ended up heading his effort over.
Chippa keeper Watenga who commanded his line reasonably well throughout the game found himself extremely lucky to have not conceded a penalty nor received a red card in the 77th minute as he came out of his box, tackling Mahlangu when the midfielder seemingly would have had a goal-scoring opportunity.
Though lady luck has not been on the side of Chippa much in the league recently, it has been helping them in the Nedbank Cup as they have a chance to now add some silverware to their cabinet in what has been a frustrating season for them.
They will either be up against TTM or Mamelodi Sundowns who play in the second semi-final tomorrow in the final.