Free State Stars marched into the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup after a narrow 2-1 win over Chippa United earlier on Saturday afternoon. Stars, who are playing their best football under Belgian coach Luc Eymael, are also challenging for league honours.
The Free State club is sitting comfortably on the number three spot trailing log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by just six points. The high flying Free State Stars hosted the struggling Chippa United who were playing their first game under new coach Vladislav Heric following the sacking of Teboho Moloi a week ago.
Stars needed extra-time to beat neighbours Super Eagles in the last-32 minutes, on the other hand United brushed aside third division side Phiva Young Stars to advance to the last-16 round of the competition.
If they manage to finish third in the ABSA Premiership this season, Stars will play in the CAF Confederation Cup next year, with United finding themselves on the 12th spot on the log with just seven games remaining this season. It was still goalless at half-time.
It took a brilliant header from Stars Captain Paulos Masehe to break the deadlock early in the second half. Stars conceded a free kick on the edge of their box, and they were punished when substitute Linda Mntambo’s shot was deflected into the net to level the score.
Stars keeper Thela Ngobeni kept his side in the match with this brilliant save. When many expected the game to proceed to extra-time, Bangaly Keita had other ideas when he scored the winner with only two minutes remaining.
United found the equaliser in injury time but coach Heric could not believe his eyes when Edward Manqele’s goal was judged off-side.