PIETERMARITZBURG – Cape Town City outmuscled Maritzburg United to march on to the MTN8 semi-finals with a 1-0 win at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday.
Keanu Cupido’s strike propelled City into the last four, with R8 million up for grabs for the competition winners.
City will face Mamelodi Sundowns on August 25 at home, and travel to Pretoria to face Masandawana in the return leg away on September 1.
Kaizer Chiefs were pitted against SuperSport United in the other semi-final.
It was another miserable day for the Team of Choice. They are still searching for their maiden victory in the 2018/19 season.
United have lost all three matches this season. They have succumbed to Lamontville Golden Arrows, Free State Stars and Cape Town City.
The pressure is mounting for United coach Fadlu Davids. On Friday, they will welcome Kaizer Chiefs at Harry Gwala in an Absa Premiership showdown.
Both coaches made three changes to their starting XI on Sunday.
Davids dropped Yazid Atouba and Mohau Mokate, while Fortune Makaringe was missing because of suspension. He opted to start with Keagan Buchanan, Deolin Mekoa and Keletso Makgwala.
On other hand, Benni McCarthy also tinkered with his side as he brought back Peter Leeuwenburg, Ayanda Patosi and Siphelele Mthembu.
Sage Stephens, Mpho Matsi and Matthew Rusike made way for the trio.
The two sides put their body on the ball in physical and aerial tussles early in the match.
City’s pressing game was immaculate as they didn’t allow United to build from the back, which is one of their strengths.
Mthembu should have put his side into the lead after 27 minutes as Patosi played a champagne pass to the former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates talisman, but looped his shot over the bar, with just goalkeeper Richard Ofori to beat.
United have not been the same at the back without their former captain Bevan Fransman, who joined Highlands Parl in the off-season.
They have been sloppy, fragile and shaky. In their two league matches, United have conceded four goals, which is a poor return from a team who were the second best defensive side last term.
City were the more threatening between the two sides. Mthembu was causing all sorts of trouble with his strength and the ability to hold on the ball, and bring his teammates into the game.
Thabo Nodada was pulling all the strings in the middle of the park, and kept Ndlovu quiet for much of the first half.
It wasn’t surprising that he walked away with a Man of the Match award.
The goal finally came a minute before the interval as Ofori paired Patosi’s corner to Cupido, who pounced unmarked at the far post.
City could have played the first half without the goalkeeper and they would have escaped unharmed as Leeuwenburg was purely a spectator.
See you soon 😬 pic.twitter.com/C3FgWSGI3t
United came back from the interval more determined and invigorated, and were getting closer in their search for an equaliser as they controlled the proceedings.
Mokate made an instant impact, and the game became more physical in the second. Mkhize was rushed into the hospital after suffering a head injury while trying to win the ball against Bokang Tlhone. Craig Martin came on for his captain.
United grew in frustration and tempers boiled over, which compelled the referee Victor Hlungwane to intervene.
Nodada was marvellous to watch for City, breaking up all the good moves that United were trying to conjure up.
Leeuwenburg was finally called into action and was equal to the task as he produced a magnificent diving save to deny Tlou Masegela and kept his side in the game.
City outclassed United in every department, and were deserving winners on the day.
Last season they lost against SuperSport United in the final, and will be looking to go all the way this time around.