It’s a two-time thrill for Platinum Stars

2013-12-07 23:09

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Winning two cup competitions is no mean feat by any measure. And with this rare achievement in the domestic game, Platinum Stars coach Allan Freese should have done enough to secure a permanent coaching job at Dikwena.

And such success, especially when it comes at the expense of a more fancied opponent like Orlando Pirates, warrants kudos, more so for a local coach.

Freese, who was a bit more calmer of the two coaches on the night, meant he had completed a double victory over the same Pirates, having overcame them via penalties in the MTN8 Cup final in September.

Tonight was the third time this year Pirates had finished as runners-up after they collected silver in the CAF Champions League and now the Telkom.

While Stars captured their second Telkom, having won the inaugural version in 2006, pressure is now mounting on coach Roger De Sa, who is yet to deliver silverware in the 15 months he has been in charge of the Buccaneers.

A former goalkeeper in his heyday, De Sa is under immense pressure to stop a barren spell that saw the tradition-steeped club relinquish all they had won in the previous two seasons.

The loss came on the back of another hiding that Pirates got from Bloemfontein Celtic in the league last weekend.

In tonight’s encounter, some would say it was justice served for Stars after Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi’s headed goal looked more like it was scored from an offside position.

Pirates were bound to lose this encounter, given the early scare they got from Stars, who are always patient in their build-ups and hardly finish a match without scoring.

Worse, De Sa’s charges failed to convert when chances beckoned and Stars were under siege.

If there is a craft that Stars master well, it is their ability to pin the opponents under pressure from the onset.

Central to Stars’ early surge were Henrico Botes and Robert Ng’ambi, whose combination in the attacking spine yielded the experience that gave their side hope.

On the occasions Pirates breached the stubborn Stars defence, led by their former team-mate, Benson Mhlongo, panic crept in and Freese’s side committed some mistakes that undid the sterling work they did on the opposite end.

It was from a series of fouls conceded on the edge of the Stars goal area where Pirates eventually got their reward, when Lekgwathi headed home from Daine Klate’s free kick.

Unforced errors became their story in the second half and at one point goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was forced to save Luvolwethu Mpeta from scoring an own goal.

But thanks to their trademark fighting spirit and a calculated move by Freese to introduce Ngele, Stars snatched it from Pirates at the crucial interval.

It was not a free-flowing mach as play was often interrupted by dirty play, further compounded by inconsistent officiating from referee Kulasande Qongqo.

In the end, Ngele’s brace was still good enough for Dikwena to engrave their name alongside those of Kaizer Chiefs, Ajax, Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic, who are the only clubs to have won this competition since it was rebranded in 2006.

Although the atmosphere was electric last night, the turnout did not fill all the spaces on the terraces of the iconic 2010 Fifa World Cup venue.

However, those who came, tagged along with the rest of the world in conveying tributes to the late former statesman Nelson Mandela.

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