Sundowns fall to Tycoons
Platinum Stars drew first blood in the Telkom Charity Cup when they beat Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday morning.
Stars, who will face either Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates in the final at 17H00, were deserved winners, against a Sundowns side devoid of rhythm and short on inspiration.
The first half failed to reach great heights and pre-season rustiness was very much in evidence from both teams.
Things were not made any easier by the conditions -- heavy downfalls throughout the morning left the pitch wet and slippery, making ball control tricky, while the floodlights had to be switched on in an attempt to improve the gloomy light.
It was Stars who shaded the first stanza, having more of the ball possession and showing good cohesion in terms of following a concise game plan, which was in stark contrast to a Sundowns side who played well below par.
Interestingly, there were places in the Tycoons starting line-up for former ‘bad boys’ Jabu Mahlangu and Mbulelo Mabizela.
Mabizela was solid throughout the match and Mahlangu looked sharp and lively early on and was involved in a fifth-minute build up that saw Alton Meiring, on trial from Moroka Swallows, fire a volley goal-wards. Sundowns goalkeeper Brian Baloyi was however able to make a comfortable save.
The Brazilians’ line-up also had a few interesting names in what appeared to be an experimental starting XI, including Felix Katongo, brother of former Cosmos striker Chris Katongo.
Former Golden Arrows midfield maestro Papi Zothwane also started for the Tshwane side and enjoyed Downs’ best, and only clear-cut chance of the half in the 32nd minute when he arrived at the back post to get on the end of the cross, but his volley went wide as he struggled to get behind the ball which skidded off the wet pitch.
Sundowns coach Hristo Stoichkov introduced Mabhuti Khenyeza, Gareth Ncaca and Vuyo Mere for the second half, which saw Downs looking more purposeful early on.
However, it was Stars who took the lead via a simple set piece -- Dillon Sheppard whipped in a well-flighted comer kick to the near post, where an unchallenged Thabiso Monareng headed home.
The second half proved to be more action-packed than the first as goal attempts came in on a regular basis -- Ncaca and Zothwane both tried their luck from long range, Mere headed over the bar and Bradley Grobler’s cracking drive from 25-yards out whistled past the upright.
And in the 66th minute the crowd were brought to their feet as Tsepo Ramokla burst into the box and squared the ball across the goal. Sundowns failed to clear the danger and Monareng pounced to slot the ball home into an empty net from eight yards out.
Ncaca came close with a free kick five minutes from time, but Stars didn’t have too many problems in preserving their two-goal advantage and booking their place in the final later this afternoon.
Sundowns: Baloyi; Gaxa, Johannes (Spencer 90’), Xulu, Mayinga, Katongo, Nyandoro (Ncaca 46’), Dembele (Mere 46’), Zothwane (Mphela 68’), Lentjies (Khenyeza 46’), Nguzane (Mpangase 60’)
Stars: Sandilands, Mogaila, Ntgwae, Mabizela, Thebakeng, Mahlangu (Monareng 46’), Kgatla (Tshabalala 83’), Williams, Sheppard (Ramokala 64’), Botes (Grobler 62’), Meiring (Murakami 54’)