a fairy tale
The desire to prove critics of his side wrong spurred coach Kenny Ndlazi on to Mpumalanga Black Aces' 1-0 victory over Free State Stars in a Nedbank Cup semifinal match at Super Stadium, Atteridgeville, on Saturday.
Not many people gave the underrated coach's side a chance against Mike Mokoena's Stars.
Despite torrential rain, the Mpumalanga outfit showed they are capable of taking on the best in the country.
This was the second Premiership side to be shown the stars by the National First Division club. They registered a convincing 2-0 triumph over Thanda Royal Zulu in the last- 32 stage on March 16.
By reaching the final, Aces are in line to scoop the R6 million first prize. They are already guaranteed R2,5 million for earning a berth in the final.
"It is going to be a mammoth task against either Mamelodi Sundowns or AmaZulu on May 21. But, we will give it our best shot," said an excited Ndlazi.
"On a personal note, this is a great achievement. I have been in the game for more than three decades and never experienced such a big challenge in my life."
Ndlazi praised his players and technical staff, which includes assistant coach Dumisani Ngobe and goalkeeper coach Cyprian "Mahala" Maimane for their contribution. Legendary goalkeeper Maimane played for the club in his heyday.
Credit also went to the Mpumalanga government who bussed in more than 2000 supporters clad in blue and white to cheer the team on.
A disappointed Stars' coach, Kinnah Phiri, looked in disbelief as referee Matthew Dyer blew the final whistle.
"It was not our day. Good luck to Aces in the final," said Phiri.
After a goalless first half, Stars came out smoking in the second stage and piled on the pressure.
But Aces packed their defence and worked hard to stem Stars' threatening moves, and that worked wonders.
It was Aces who took the lead in the 59th minute through veteran Kabamba Musasa, who easily converted Essau Mtsweni's square pass.
Stars were dealt a blow towards the end of the game when Dyer sent off Kampamba Chintu for a professional foul on Aces' striker Emmanuel Emenike.