Platinum Stars crowned MTN 8 champs

30 September 2013

Platinum Stars edged out Orlando Pirates on penalties at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night to claim South Africa’s MTN 8 knockout trophy for the first time in difficult, wet conditions.

The battle between the teams that finished second and third respectively in the previous Premier Soccer League (PSL) season was decided from the spot after they finished level at 1-1 after 120 minutes of play.

Stars took the lead early in the second half through a header from Robert Ng’ambi, but were put under severe pressure from Pirates, who eventually found an equaliser through Thabo Matlaba in the 85th minute.

‘We kept fighting’

“When we went down, we kept on fighting,” Platinum Stars’ coach Allan Freese said after the match. “We didn’t expect it to go to penalties, but when they equalised we had to work hard and in extra-time the boys dug in.

“I’m happy for the win, I’m happy for the players and I’m happy for the club. The technical staff, all the guys who support the players. I’d [also] like to thank the supporters who came to support us.”

Pirates coach’ Roger De Sa commented: “Obviously we’re very disappointed. We controlled the game throughout and had a lot of chances, but conditions didn’t really help us, didn’t help both sides really. It made [the game] a scrappy affair.

‘They played for penalties’

“They played for penalties and they got it, and they beat us. Well done to them.”

Stars threatened early on when Sipehelele Mthembu took advantage of a poor clearance to slip past two defenders before Rooi Mahamutsa deflected Mthembu’s shot wide of goal.

Pirates, though, enjoyed the better of the possession and Kermit Erasmus tested Stars’ Siyabonga Mpontshane with a rasping shot that the goalkeeper fumbled before gaining control of the ball at a second attempt.

Erasmus fired off another shot after he beat two defenders with a sharp turn, but his effort was deflected just over the crossbar.

Wide of the mark

Tlou Segolela created an opportunity for Happy Jele on the right as half-time neared, but the Buccaneers’ defender was wide of the mark with his finish.

Oupa Manyisa then directed a half-volley straight at the goalkeeper, while Mahamutsa mistimed a header from a corner.

Pirates had made most of the running in the opening stanza, but Stars took the lead shortly after the restart.

Goal

From a free kick on the right, Tintswalo Tshabalala delivered a curling cross, which was flicked on by former Pirates’ defender Benson Mhlongo and finished by a header from Robert Ng’ambi from just a few metres out.

Stung by the goal, the Buccaneers immediately took the game to Dikwena again, with Jele failing to find the mark with a header after being set up by Matlaba.

Lennox Bacela created an oppotunity for Erasmus after heading a cross to the striker, but Erasmus hesitated and then fired wide.

In the 65th minute, Pirates had the ball in the back of the Stars’ net through Erasmus, but the linesman ruled him offside and the goal was disallowed.

Equaliser

With only five minutes left in regulation time, Pirates were finally rewarded for their attacking efforts when Matlaba beat Mpontshane with a rocket from about 25 metres out, with the goalkeeper helpless to prevent the equaliser.

In extra time, the Buccaneers kept up the pressure with Manyisa putting Bacela through on Mpontshane, but Bacela shot straight at the goalie.

Matlaba created a gilt-edged chance for substitute Joseph Molangoane 12 minutes into extra time, but Molangoane failed to make contact with a teasing cross from the left.

Missed opportunities

Matlaba let rip from range again, but his shot was straight at the goalie, while at the other end substitute Mogakolodi Ngele fired over Senzo Meyiwa’s goal before the match went to the spot.

With the game on the line, Pirates failed to hold their nerve as only Jali netted his penalty, while Vuyo Mere, Henrico Botes and Ngele were successful for Stars, giving them a 3-1 win from the spot.