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Football | Absa Premiership

Henrico Botes © Backpagepix

Stars cruise to three points



Platinum Stars have continued where they left off in the first half of the season with a deserved 2-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic in their Absa Premiership clash at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night.

If the Dikwena management were reluctant to talk about a title challenge over the festive season, they must privately feel they are in with a chance after moving to within three points of leaders Orlando Pirates.

It is still a long way to go in the season, but all they can do it keep winning and goals from Henrico Botes and Robert Ng’ambi gave them the victory against Phunya Sele Sele.

Neither side had any debutants for this match, Stars had made no additions to their squad in the transfer window while Celtic are still waiting for a work permit for their Zimbabwean striker Roderick Mutuma.

Stars coach went very much with his tried and trusted from the first half of the campaign, Bafana winger Thuso Phala coming straight back into the side after his exploits at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Clinton Larsen also produced a familiar line-up for Celtic, though he was now able to call on Kurt Lentjies, who missed much of the first half of the campaign through injury.

Phala had the first real effort on goal, forcing a fine stop from Phunya Sele Sele goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.

But the home side were ahead on 25 minutes and deservedly so. The impressive Mogakolodi Ngele teed-up Botes inside the penalty area and the Namibian international netted his seventh of the season and fourth in as many games.

Ngele then brought the best out of Tignyemb again with another snap-shot that needed saving, while Botes headed over the bar when he might have at least hit the target.

Celtic skipper Thabo Nthethe had a rare effort on goal for the visitors that was easily dealt with in the Stars goal by Siyabonga Mpontshane.

Dikwena made the points safe with a second goal 11 minutes from time, Ng’ambi with a typically composed finish. Botes headed the ball into his path and the Malawian international applied the finish.

Stars were able to comfortably see out the game after that and can feel pleased with another confident performance – their seventh victory in eight home games this season.

Next up for Stars is a home meeting with Ajax Cape Town on Saturday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, while Celtic host Bidvest Wits.

Platinum Stars (1) 2 (Botes 24', Ng’ambi 79)

Bloemfontein Celtic 0

Stars: Mpontshane, Gumede, Mpeta, Mere, Phala (T Mthembu 84'), Mhlongo, Ng'ambi, Mathe, Malokase (Msomi 80'), Ngele (Mkhabela 57'), Botes

Celtic: Tignyemb, Mahoa, Nthethe, Isaacs, Mzava, Lakay (Leonard 78'), Arwuah, Mogorosi, Lentjies (Ntanga 70'), Manzini, Bacela (Gamildien 66')

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