Free State Stars are anticipating a thrilling Nedbank Cup final against Maritzburg United at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening, kick-off 7pm.
Ea Lla Koto came through ties with Super Eagles, Chippa United, Ubuntu Cape Town and Kaizer Chiefs to secure a final place while the Team of Choice saw off Swallows FC, Royal Eagles, Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns.
Both sides enjoyed fantastic Premiership campaigns with just four points separating the two teams, with Luc Eymael’s charges in sixth on the league standings with 40 points and Fadlu Davids’ men ending in fourth with 44 points.
In 20 matches played against each other, Maritzburg have won four times to Stars’ eight victories, with eight draws.
In the league in 2017/18, Maritzburg sealed a 3-0 away win after Stars’ 1-0 victory on the road in the first round.
Eymael previously reflected on his opponents this weekend, saying: “Maritzburg is a very good team. They play very nice football. They play 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 – it depends.
“They are very good technically and are very well organised. They have a good structure and a good coach, who has been doing a very good job. It will be a very difficult game.”
Speaking ahead of the clash, Team of Choice head coach Fadlu Davids gave his impression of the side from Bethlehem.
He said: “A really difficult team to play against; really rigid defending, man-marking, they of course are one of the best counter-attacking teams in the league and you make a mistake in your build-up and they punish you.
“They are a well coached team, a well oiled machine, they know exactly what to do in moments of the game so we are prepared for a really tough game, an intensive match for 90 or 120 minutes.”
Stars last appeared in a final in 1999, losing narrowly to Mamelodi Sundowns in the then Rothmans Cup (Telkom Knockout), having claimed cup honours in the 1994 Coca-Cola Cup (Telkom Knockout), but it is the first time in a final for Maritzburg United.
Stars veteran Rooi Mahamutsa, meanwhile, is keen on victory to secure a place in the Confederation Cup.
He said: “I have been speaking to the guys, telling them that let’s go all out in the final so that we win this trophy and you get to experience the environment that’s out there.
“It’s totally different compared to domestic football. I have been looking forward to returning there. We will try our best so that we can go and play the Confederation Cup.”