Baroka dream destroyed by Leopards

The match had finished 2-2 after extra time.

Apparently, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Trott Moloto was invited to give a pep talk to the Baroka players moments before the match, but Leopards dampened the spirits of the Vodacom League outfit when they lodged a protest, alleging that Olaleng Shaku apparently didn’t serve a two-match suspension despite being red carded in a Vodacom League match some three months ago.

The match was, therefore, played under protest but the move by Leopards appeared to have done little to dampen the spirit of the Baroka players, because the Ga-Mphahlele club started on a brighter note as Khunadi Nkoana’s well executed chip inside six minutes was tipped over the bar by Azwindini Maphaha.

The first chance for Leopards fell to Dingane Masanabo inside the box in the ninth minute when he got to the end of a cross with a header, but the ball went wide.

Baroka drew first blood, though, in the 10th minute when Leopards defender Harry Nyirenda brought down Nkoana in the box and Thobani Mncwango stepped up to coolly slot home to give Baroka the lead.

Sello Chokoe’s boys enjoyed a 1-0 lead at the interval.

Leopards were the better side in the second stanza and were duly rewarded. The Thohoyandou drew level from a set-piece, with Vincent Xakane rising highest to head home the equaliser in the 50th minute.

Baroka tried to fight back with Katlego Mashego at the forefront of their attack.

Mashego, who is linked with a move to Bloemfontein Celtic after some sterling displays in the Nedbank Cup, was put through one-on-one with Maphaha, but the latter came out tops when he put his body on the line to block Mashego’s attempt on 65 minutes.

Mashego fluffed more opportunities at a later stage, such as when he shot over the bar with the goalkeeper at his mercy in the 82nd minute after some good work by Nkoana and again at the death when he broke free down the right but shot waywardly and the match went into extra time.

Leopards took the lead in the 110th minute after Rodney Ramagalela headed in, benefitting from Baroka’s sloppy defence.

Nkoana leveled matters a minute later when his shot from inside the box was deflected sending Maphaha the wrong way.

The match went into penalties and some clinical kicking from Leopards ensured David Thidiela’s team booked their place in the Final, penciled for May 28 at the Mbombela stadium.

Penalty sequence (Baroka shoot first): Mashego misses 0-0, Masuku misses 0-0; Mncwango misses 0-0, Vezi scores 0-1; Mohwatseleng misses 0-1, Ramagalela scores 0-2; Ramatjela scores 1-2, Monama scores 1-3.

Line-ups: Baroka (4-4-2): Tshinuna – Mbhele (Mothupa 103rd), Mohwatseleng, Shaku, Thomo - Lantshene, Mashego, Nkoana, Ndlovu – Mncwango, Baloyi (Ramatjela 87th)

Black Leopards (4-4-2): Maphaha – Kwena, Xakane, Nyirenda, Vezi – Ngambi, Bobe (Maake 98th), Mabunda (Monama 65th), Masuku – Masanabo (Lungu 82nd), Ramagalela

Referee: Jerome Damon