Stars take advantage of United’s off day

2008-10-26 00:00

After four impressive unbeaten matches, just about everything that could went wrong for Maritzburg United in their 2-0 Telkom Knockout first-round defeat to Free State Stars at Charles Mopeli Stadium in QwaQwa on Saturday.

The horror clash of heads between United striker Fadlu Davids and Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene in injury time, which left the former with a broken nose and the latter unconscious, summed up the visiting team’s afternoon. Davids will have an operation, but it is not clear yet how long he will be out of action.

Stars must get credit for a fired-up display, particularly in attack, where they at times carved United’s back four up with their pace. The Free Staters, whose coach, Owen Da Gama, resigned two weeks ago, got off to a perfect start under caretaker Themba Sithole.

United’s defeat followed a week in which coach Gordon Igesund was twice taken to hospital with high blood pressure. The coach said he does not believe his illness affected the team’s preparations.

“I thought we played okay in the first half, but conceded a silly goal. But, as the game went on, we didn’t play well,” Igesund said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but the three-week break from our 2-1 win against AmaZulu did affect us.”

Igesund took his place on the bench, but spent the game seated, and his presence shouting instructions seemed clearly missed.

“I was told not to go to the game. The doctor said you’ve had high blood pressure and we’ve got you back to normal now, so rather rest. But I just couldn’t leave the guys,” he said.

Stars took the lead in the third minute when Diyo Sibisi just managed to beat Bageta Dikilu to a long pass to burst into the area and sublimely chip goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap with the outside of his boot.

Sibisi notched up his second in the 83rd minute. Sylla Mbemba was easily beaten by substitute Jimmy Kauleza, and with Elias Ngwepe having drifted from Sibisi, the unmarked striker buried his finish.

United struggled to play to their normal game-plan of getting the ball wide and knocking in dangerous crosses. Stars could have won by a greater margin, and Sthembiso Ngcobo hit the post twice with headers in the 59th minute.

Igesund said United’s problems in defence will be rectified before the team’s Premier Soccer League match against champions Supersport United in Pretoria on Wednesday night.

“Without naming anyone, I wasn’t happy with the performance of one or two guys in defence and we will have a look at things in the next two days,” Igesund said.

Orlando Pirates yesterday became the only one of the “big three” to survive the first round, Lebohang Mothibanthwa’s goal midway through the second half burying Thanda Royal Zulu 1-0 in kwaMashu.

Mamelodi Sundowns lost 1-0 to Bay United at the Super Stadium on Saturday night.

Telkom Knockout first round:

Yesterday: Thanda Royal Zulu 0 Orlando Pirates 1, Moroka Swallows 1 Wits University 0

Saturday: Mamelodi Sundowns 0 Bay United 1, Free State Stars 2 Maritzburg United 0.

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