Highlands Park progressed to their first major final in 36 years with a penalty shoot-out victory over Polokwane City in the second leg of their MTN8 semi-final on Tuesday evening.
After Saturday’s man-of-the-match performance against Kaizer Chiefs, Cyril Chibwe sat out for George Chigova while Rodney Ramagalela replaced Tendai Ndoro for Highlands against his former employers.
The start to the match was marred by a slow tempo until Walter Musona stinged the palms of Thela Ngobeni on 21 minutes with a half-volley from the far side following a diagonal ball in the area.
Highlands immediately responded when Peter Shalulile smashed the top of the crossbar from Ramagalela’s right wing cross. The Lions of the North threatened again three minutes later when Lindokuhle Mbatha ran onto a flick-on for a simple lob, but Chigova tipped the effort out for a corner.
The Lions of the North were dealt a blow with 15 minutes remaining in the stanza, as Ramagalela fractured a muscle while on the ball and was thus removed for Ndoro. The first half, however, ended goalless, prolonging the goalless state of affairs in the overall tie even further.
Opportunities dried out at the start of the second half, as defences tightened all loose ends that reared its ugly head in the opening spell. As a result, Mbatha made way for Mokete Mogaila in the 56th minute as Highlands coach Owen Da Gama threw on his first substitution of the match.
Mothobi Mvala almost stole victory in the final 12 minutes for the Lions of the North, but Chigova pushed the lanky mifielder’s header out for a corner. The two sides were therefore still inseparable following 180 minutes of action and went into a penalty shoot-out to determine a winner.
Two misses from Rise and Shine, allowed Mogaila to net the winning spot kick in sudden death to send the Lions of the North into the final, where they will face the winner of the second semi-final between Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.
Highlands: Ngobeni, Mokoena, Munyai, Mbhele, Rae, Williams, Mahlangu, Mbatha, Shalulile, Mvala, Ramagalela.
Subs: Heugh, Mogaila, Jooste, Mkhabela, Fransman, Motlafi, Ndoro.
Polokwane: Chigova, Mvelase, Hlongwane, Mbonani, Motloung, Manaka, Musona, W.Maluleke, Anas, J.Maluleke, Tlolane.
Subs: Chibwe, Nthatheni, Nku, Mngomezulu, Buthelezi, Chauke, Phiri.