Dikwena book MTN8 final spot
Robert Ng'ambi (Backpage)
Johannesburg - Platinum Stars have booked their place in the final of this year's MTN8 Cup competition, courtesy of a 6-3 aggregate victory over Wits in the teams' MTN8 second-leg semi-final clash at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.
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Robert Ng'ambi scored a second half brace, while Denver Mukamba netted Wits' goal in the 71st minute with a spectacular headed effort to end the night 2-1 to Stars.
Despite Mukamba's strike, Stars progressed to their first ever appearance in the final of the lucrative top eight cup competition, having carried the advantage of a 4-2 victory in the first leg into Tuesday's encounter.
Heading into the clash trailing on aggregate, Wits came out looking determined as Sipho Mngomezulu's speculative effort forced Stars goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane into making a last-ditch stop as the ball almost dipped under the crossbar from some way out.
Musa Bilankulu was next to have a go, but his effort proved to be some way off as Wits continued to push for the opener.
Although the Clever Boys threatened at regular intervals, the Johannesburg outfit failed to test Mpontshane from close-range, preferring instead to try from distance, as skipper Sibusiso Vilakazi and Ryan Chapman's shots were easily collected.
Having been the quieter of the sides before the break, the visitors were first to attack after the interval, with Siphelele Mthembu rattling the crossbar with his thunderous effort in the 47th minute.
Wits replied three minutes later with a long-range chance of their own, but second half replacement Robin Ngalande narrowly missed the target with his left-footed volley, which looked to have had the better of Mpontshane, before rising above the crossbar.
But it was Stars who would break the deadlock on the hour mark, as Vuyo Mere's first-time delivery into the box took an awkward bounce in front of goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.
Josephs made the save but parried his save into the path of Ng'ambi, who was primed to pick up on the spilt ball and dispatched his shot goalwards, beating Josephs and extending Stars's aggregate lead to 5-2.
Ten minutes later, however, Wits drew level on the night as two of their second half substitutions linked superbly.
Getaneh Gibeto made a searching run along the left flank before picking out Mukamba with an accurate delivery toward the back post, before the latter's tactful diving header sailed into the top right of goal to take the aggregate score to 5-3.
Ng'ambi was far from finished as he bagged his second of the night 13 minutes from time, in an identical repeat of their first, as Mere again provided a pinpoint delivery toward the back post, leaving the Malawian forward simply to slot home past Josephs.
Ng'ambi's second was enough to see out the victory, as Stars now turn their attention to Saturday's final against Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.