Moroka Swallows produced top-drawer football when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0, but lost 2-1 on aggregate in a second leg semifinal match of the MTN 8 at a packed Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg yesterday.
This was a final before the final, with both sides playing their hearts out in this no-holds-barred affair before an appreciative crowd.
There was ululation and a symphony of whistles before the game from the jolly crowd.
The Birds came into the game trailing 2-0 from the first leg semifinal played at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria last week.
Soccer lovers came in large numbers to see which of the two sides would qualify for the final of this lucrative R8million winner-takes-all prize.
A moment of silence was observed for the late Dr Phil Maepa of Kaizer Chiefs, who died last Friday.
The game had the makings of a cup final and was played at a fast pace, with both sides aiming for an early lead.
The home side were a far cry from the team that lost to Chiefs last week. The Birds played like a well-oiled machine as they gave their opponents a run for their money.
The game was entertaining and the large crowd was not disappointed.
Amakhosi's Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Gert Schalkwyk and Siphiwe Tshabalala tormented the Swallows defence, while Lefa Tsutsulupa, Sandile Ndlovu and Cecil Oersen combined well for the Birds.
The Birds were aggressive but were unfortunate when Ndlovu's goal from a through pass by Tsutsulupa was disallowed for offside in the opening minutes of the game.
Swallows' Ryan Botha beat Chiefs goalkeeper Emile Baron with a powerful shot in the 48th minute.
Jose Torrealba was sent off after hitting a Swallows defender in the 56th minute.
The game was a thriller and towards the end Chiefs resorted to defensive tactics to keep the marauding Swallows at bay.