ORAPA: Orapa United edged diamond Brothers Jwaneng Galaxy by a solitary goal in a tactically close encounter under a good Saturday afternoon atmosphere at Itekeng Stadium.
Their last minute goal courtesy of substitute Lawrence Nduga, ensured they marched into the lucrative Mascom Top 8 final with a 2-1 aggregate. They drew a goal apiece in the reverse fixture in Jwaneng.
The Jwaneng outfit had the upper hand at the start, revealing their attacking card earlier while United displayed calmness in their backyard.
Galaxy arrived at the United goals thrice before the latter could respond, but were closed down and caused no real threats.
United gained their grove as the half grew and looked more threatening on attack. The two teams displayed threatening moments mid first half.
Kutlwelo Mpolokang was at the right place at the far post to clear a Thabang Mosige goal bound header in the quarter hour mark after the defender had connected well to Mpho Kgaswane corner kick.
Three minutes later, Thero Setsile responded with a rocket at the other end. Lesenya Malapela parried, and Patrick Kaunda skied the rebound from the 16 yards.
Galaxy was dealt a blow when their danger man, Atisang Batsi was prematurely pulled out with a knock and replaced by Tebogo Sembowa. United was denied by the post on the 24th minute. Mbatshi Elias had received a pass from Onkemetse Powe as defenders allowed him room in front of box but his grass cutter rattled the foot of the upright.
Ostriches failed to benefit from a howler when Fortunate Thulare failed to clear and Elias, who seemingly had not anticipated the ball was caught flat foot in goal mouth.
Allen Ndodole wrapped the half with a delightful half volley on a turn that left the supporters up and scratching heads as the shot sailed inches over the bar.
Four minutes from the dugout, Thulare was rescued by a well-positioned Katlego Mbise after he committed another mistake. His miscued clearance fell for Powe, who directed his point blank shot at Mbise and the goalkeeper parried away.
Moments later, Mbise was ferried to the hospital after a critical collision with Mabaya. Thabo Dambe replaced him. Mabaya, was stretchered
Opening minutes of the second half was marred by a series of stoppages due to fouls. Thulare, who had a bad day in the office, fouled Ndodole on the 18-yard line. Johnson hit the brick wall with the resulting free kick.
United had a penalty on the 75th minute. Makgantai sprung into a Thabo Leinanyane short backpass and did enough to nick it before the goalkeeper fowled him. Johnson was denied by Dambe who saved the spotkick. Baruti caused a scare on the 81st after a great combination with Gift Moyo in the box, but his end effort was directed to the attacking goalkeeper. Three minutes later, Kaunda skied another shot from the penalty area.
Nduga sent the colourful stadium berserk when he burst the dam with a well executed 40-yards free-kick to the far post in the referee’s optional time.
Kobamelo Kebaikanye better known as Swere, nearly plunged another dagger into the hearts of Galaxy supporters when he was let loose on the right. His shot, was nevertheless blocked out by Dambe. Miguel Da Costa took the defeat on the chin. He said he knew it was going to be tough and bemoaned the forced injuries compounded their woes.
“It was always going to be decided by a small detail,” he said. Teenage Mpote believed it was a tactical game with quality players from both ends. He was elated to reach the final.
“It is easier when your players own your philosophy. The boys kept shape just as we planned. It’s an amazing display. We are looking forward to the final, and it would be nice to win (final) as head coach,” the elated Mpote said.
Orapa: Malapela, Johnson, Mosige, Mooketsi Hlabano, Kgaswane, Mabaya (Nduga), Tapiwa Nyamandjiva, Powe, Ndodole (Kebaikanye), Elias (Omaatla Kebatho), Makgantai
Galaxy: Mbise (Dambe), Thabo Leinanyane, Setsile, Thulare, Tebogo Sosome, Gape Mohutsiwa, Mpolokang (Takunda Sadique), Moyo, Baruti, Patrick Kaunda, Batsi (Sembowa)
Cautions: Mabaya, Nduga
Orapa 1 (Nduga 90th)