Highlands fail to score vital away goal in MTN8 first leg semi in Polokwane
Polokwane City and Highlands Park produced one of the dullest displays this season when they played to goalless in the first leg of MTN8 semifinal at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
City failed to capitalise on their home ground advantage and will have to dig deep in the second leg at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on September 18 if they are to progress to their first ever final since gaining promotion to the top flight in 2012-13 season.
The chances created by both sides were simply not clear cut enough to trouble goalkeepers, though Highlands substitute Rodney Ramagalela should have done better when he was one on one with City goalie Cyril Chibwe five minutes from time.
The former City striker blasted the ball against Chibwe’s chest instead of chipping it to his partner Peter Shalulile, who was in great position to tap it home.
With the introduction of skipper Jabulani Maluleke and Sibusiso Hlubi for Mthokozisi Nene and Lesiba Nku respectively, City intensified their attack in the second half, but Thela Ngobeni in Highlands poles, who was voted man of the match, did well to thwart them.
A long range shot by City midfielder Wiseman Maluleke was easily collected by Ngobeni, who is yet to lose a match since making his Highlands debut in the first round of this competition against Orlando Pirates.
As hard as they tried, City just couldn’t reproduce the kind of form that saw them defeat last year’s winners Cape Town City 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
The draw will probably be welcomed by Highlands coach Owen da Gama, knowing that the home support in Tembisa will certainly boost his team chances.
Both teams stand a chance to become the 16th new winners of this tournament if one of them go all the way to pocket the winner-takes-all cheque of R8m.
The competition has been dominated by Kaizer Chiefs, who have won it a record 15 times since it was launched in 1972, with Pirates, who were eliminated by Highlands, coming in a distant second with nine titles.
Moroka Swallows, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits have each won the top eight three times, while the other semi-finalists in this year’s edition, SuperSport United, are the only ones with two titles.
SuperSport will play in their third successive final if they beat Sundowns in the semis.