Siphelele Mthembu of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Free State Stars on12 May 2018 at Orlando Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Friday May 18, 2018. 14:34
Free State Stars and Maritzburg United will battle for the right to be named Nedbank Cup champions when they meet in the competition’s final at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, 19 May 2018, kick-off at 19h00.
Stars advanced info the final with wins over Super Eagles (2-1 after extra time), Chippa United (2-1), Ubuntu Cape Town (4-2 on penalties, 1-1 draw after extra time) and Kaizer Chiefs (2-0) in the last 32, last 16, quarterfinal and semifinal respectively.
Harris Tchilimbou netted a famous brace in the semis, while Rooi Mahamutsa, Mohammed Anas, Paulus Masehe, Bengali Keita and Goodman Dlamini have all scored a goal apiece in their campaign.
Ea Lla Koto have never won the Nedbank Cup, though they were runners-up in the 1994 final (as QwaQwa Stars). This will be their first cup final since 1999, when they were beaten by Mamelodi Sundowns to the Rothmans Cup trophy.
The Free State side come into the game on the back of a 2-1 loss to Orlando Pirates in their final league clash this past weekend. They have recorded two defeats and a draw since their semifinal victory over Chiefs.
Maritzburg have earned their place in the final thanks to victories over Swallows FC (3-1 after extra time), Royal Eagles (2-1), Bloemfontein Celtic (1-0) and Mamelodi Sundowns (3-1) in the last 32, last 16, quarterfinal and semifinal respectively.
Andrea Fileccia, Mxolisi Kunene and Lebohang Maboe have each scored two goals in their campaign, while Deolin Mekoa, Siyanda Xulu and Fortune Makaringe have also netted.
This will be the Team of Choice’s first cup final (in any major competition), as they chase their maiden top flight title.
The KwaZulu-Natal side comes into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to provincial rivals Golden Arrows in their final league clash this past weekend. They have recorded two draws and a defeat since their semifinal victory over Sundowns.
Stars and Maritzburg have met in just one previous cup match, a last 16 Telkom Knockout tie in 2008 which was won 2-0 at home by the Free State side, thanks to a brace from Diyo Sibisi (a player who went on to represent United later in his career).
Overall, the teams have clashed in 23 matches across all competitions since 2005/06. Ea Lla Koto have claimed nine wins compared to four for the Team of Choice, while no less than 10 games have been drawn.
Maritzburg and Stars have met twice in the league this season, with Ea Lla Koto winning 1-0 in Pietermaritzburg thanks to a goal from Sinethemba Jantjie in the first half of the campaign, while the return game in Bethlehem ended 3-0 in favour of the Team of Choice, with strikes from Fileccia, Evans Rusike and Bandile Shandu.