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Football | MTN8

Mensah & Sangweni © Backpagepix

Arrows send Stars crashing



Golden Arrows have advanced through to the MTN8 semifinals, having beaten Free State Stars 1-0 at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Wednesday night.

Abafana Bes’thende join Kaizer Chiefs, AmaZulu and Ajax Cape Town in the MTN8 last four.

It was Stars who controlled the game early on as the Durban side struggled to find their rhythm.

There were few chances on goal in the opening stages -- rare opportunities saw Richard Henyekane firing well wide of the target from 18 yards out in the 21st minute, while Sthembiso Ngcobo’s long range shot was never going to trouble Arrows keeper Helton Da Rocha.

Further goal attempts came from Matome Madimabe for Stars and Nhlanhla Zothwane for Arrows, before the deadlock was finally broken in the 37th minute when Musa Bilankulu put the visiting side ahead.

Bilankulu was able to convert at the back post, finding time to control the ball and stab it into the back of the net from eight yards out after the Ea Lla Koto defence had failed to clear Henyekane’s angled free kick.

Ngcobo nearly fashioned an immediate equaliser for the Free State side, but saw his 39th-minute effort go inches wide of the mark.

Looking to extend their lead, it was Arrows who were the more enterprising team after the restart.

However, with the exception of a sizzling 51st-minute drive from Henyekane which was a foot wide of the mark, Arrows did not threaten the Stars defence unduly.

As the second half neared the midway stage, Ea Lla Koto upped the tempo as they went in search of an equaliser, forcing the visiting side into some committed defending.

For the large part though, Stars lacked a cutting edge in attack, with their best chance coming from a goal-mouth scramble in the 69th minute which resulted in Kingston Nkhatha firing into the side-netting.

More chances followed for Stars, but a lack of cohesion in front of goal proved costly as no one was available to get on the end of Brazilian Elder Richartz’s 73rd-minute teasing cross and then Jonathan Mensah headed over the bar five minutes later.

More agony was to follow for the home fans as Ngcobo wasted a fantastic opportunity to score in the 88th minute when he failed to get enough power on a header, allowing Da Rocha to make a fairly easy save.

That was pretty much it as Stars were concerned and in fact it was Arrows who came close to doubling their lead in injury time when Thokozani Mshengo headed against the woodwork.

TEAMS

Stars: Mweene, Mensah, Cloete, Nkosi, Carelse, Lechesa (Makola 79'), Masehe, Madimabe (Motaung 63'), Mdudli (Richartz 63'), Nkhatha, Ngcobo

Arrows: Da Rocha, Tom, Sangweni, Musonda, Zwane, Khuboni, Zothwane, Kombe, Henyekane, Bilankulu, Mshengu (Gabuzo 69')

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