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Free State Stars one game away from ending 17-year wait to play in a cup final

By Mark Gleeson | 2016-11-24 14:14:33.0

It was only a few months ago when Free State Stars played in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup but a total of almost 17 years since they last appeared in a final.

The disappointment of missing out to Orlando Pirates last May‚ when they lost 4-2 at home‚ will serve as a spur for the squad when they meet Cape Town City in the first of Saturday’s Telkom Knockout semifinals.

But none of the current squad will remember anything of the last time Stars were in a cup final.

They reached the final of the Rothmans Cup (which has since been changed with a new sponsor to the Telkom Knockout) in December 1999 but lost 2-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

The cup final goals for the Brazilians came from French-born Alain Amougou and Daniel Mudau against a Stars side that included Bunene Nguduane and was coached by Eddie Lewis.

Nguduane‚ the former Democratic Republic of Congo international‚ is still Stars’ all-time leading goal scorer and was among the heroes in 1994 when the club won their only major trophy.

They won the Coca-Cola Cup (which is also a former title of the Telkom Knockout) in 1994 at Springbok Park in Bloemfontein‚ not the only time a cricket ground has hosted a major South African footballing cup final.

Brilliant goalkeeping by John Tlale kept Hellenic at bay while Ngudaune did the damage at the other end.

The same year Stars made it to the BoB Save Super Bowl final (now the Nedbank Cup) but lost to Vaal Professionals
Stars also got to two finals in 1996 but lost them both.

They were beaten in the Top Eight final where Pirates beat them 3-0 in a replay after the first match ended 1-1.

And then in the Coca-Cola Cup‚ they also went to a replay against Umtata Bucks.

The first game was a 1-1 draw and the second match in Welkom was a 1-0 win for Bucks with William Mugeyi the scorer. - TMG Digital