Free State Stars defeated Maritzburg United 1-0 in the Nedbank Cup final at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening with Goodman Dlamini scoring the game’s only goal on the stroke of half-time.
It was a lively start by both sides in front of roughly 20 000 fans with Patrick Phungwayo first in with a chance that didn’t do too much to trouble Maritzburg goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Maritzburg were looking to play the ball around with Stars breaking up play well through the likes of captain Paulus Masehe while attacking on the counter.
Sinethemba Jantjie was bright with runs but opportunities on goal were limited.
Bevan Fransman saw his header towards the end of the first half dealt with by Thela Ngobeni before Lebohang Maboe’s shot from close range was blocked.
But Jantjie was unstoppable just a minute before the break as he raced to the byline before cutting the ball back where Dlamini swept home from the edge of the box.
Maritzburg looked to respond after the break with a change of shape to a back three but Stars’ midfield was aware to the threat and continued to contain their opponents well.
Andrea Fileccia hit the side-netting with a volley on 70 minutes while Siphelele Mthembu forced Ofori into a good save at the other end.
There was a late scare as Siyanda Xulu hooked a shot over the bar from just six yards out as the KZN side piled on the pressure.
But ultimately it was a well deserved, first ever Nedbank Cup final trophy for Ea Lla Koto and an exceptional end to a superb season for Luc Eymael and his team, who will now play in the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup.