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Football | Absa Premiership

James Okwuosa and Fikru Lemessa © Backpagepix

Stars off to winning start

Free State Stars resumed their Absa Premiership campaign with a 3-0 win over Chippa United at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Tuesday evening.

In an early kick-off, Ea Lla Koto secured all three points thanks to a brace by debutant Danny Venter, who they signed from Bloemfontein Celtic in the recent transfer window. The attacking midfielder scored late in the first half and again in injury time at the end of the game. Luyolo Nomandela also added a late, late goal to put a cherry on top.

The loss is a disappointing start to the tenure of new United coach Wilfred Mugeyi, the fifth different man in charge of the Cape Town club this season. They remain in the lower reaches of the log and possibly set for a return to the second tier.

Chippa had the first shot in anger, with James Okwuosa sending a 20-yard effort wide of the target in the ninth minute. Soon after it was the turn of former Stars man Rudiger Gilbert to test Tshepo Motsoeneng, but the goalkeeper made a comfortable save.

Just past the midway point of the first half, Ea Lla Koto winger Luyolo Nomandela let fly from long range and sent his shot just over the crossbar, though Daouda Kassaly looked to have it covered.

On the half hour mark Stars made an early change by bringing Noah Chivuta off the bench to replace Anver Esterhuizen. The Zambian substitute soon provided an assist for Danny Venter to fire home a left-footed effort in the 40th minute, putting the hosts 1-0 up.

The Chilli Boys almost came up with a reply early in the second half, with Okwuosa heading wide of the target from Diego Brown’s corner kick, while a minute later Stars’ Fikru Tefera forced Kassaly into a sharp save.

Chippa made a double change with 20 minutes to play in an attempt to sharpen up their attack, bringing Welcome Qalanto and Mkhanyiseli Siwahla off the subs bench, but it was Gilbert who nearly scored with a shot on 79 minutes that flashed over the bar.

On 84 minutes Siwahla drove an effort on target from the right side of the penalty area, but Motsoeneng was on hand to parry the ball away and keep Ea Lla Koto in the ascendancy.

Venter capped off the perfect debut performance with a second goal in injury time to secure all three points, crashing home a shot from just outside the box after good work by Nomandela down the left flank.

There was also time for Nomandela to find the back of the net himself, scoring from close range by sweeping home a pass from Enva Wiltwer to wrap up the score at 3-0.

Free State Stars (1) 3 (Venter 40’ 90+2’, Nomandela 90+4’)
Chippa United 0

Stars: Motsoeneng, Esterhuizen (Chivuta 31’), Sambu, Cardoso, Thebakang, Venter (Mpuqa 90+4’), Wiltwer, Kerspuy, Masehe, Nomandela, Tefera (Mvula 88’)

Chippa: Kassaly, Gilbert, Mabizela, Mvalo, Ntombayithethi (Ntshingila 83’), Amegnaglo, Okwuosa, Twala (Siwahla 70’), Carelse, Brown, Ngebo (Qalanto 70’)


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