Stars fail to shine in win

2011-08-13 18:20

Ajax Cape Town need to recover from their Thulani Serero hangover if they plan to produce the same scintillating form that saw them miss out on the league title by goal difference last season.

On the other hand, Platinum Stars will have to produce more inspired performances than the training-ground display they dished out yesterday if they hope to put more bums on the seats of their imposing 42 000-seater home ground.

Perhaps the players should be forgiven for playing such uninspiring football, for there were more empty chairs than fans cheering them on in this Absa Premiership match so that, at times, it almost looked like an off-season friendly.

It was a beautiful afternoon conducive for good football, with clear skies and a mild temperature of about 20°C. But in the end, few fans who took the trouble to attend this match will remember this game.

While Ajax looked babalas from Serero’s departure to ­Europe, Stars looked like a sky without any stars.

Last season Ajax clobbered Stars 3-0 in this corresponding fixture and continued the rout with a 2-0 victory in the own backyard, but yesterday, they could have played all night and never scored.

Khamat Billiat, the live-wire Zimbabwean who together with Serero terrorised defences last season, struggled to inspire his teammates against a resolute Stars defence marshalled by Mbuyiselo Sambu.

Ajax, applying a 4-4-2 formation, failed to put crosses into Stars box, leaving goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane to enjoy a relatively easy afternoon.

Terror Fanteni, usually a ­lethal finisher in front of goal, was forced to spend the rest of the afternoon playing with his back towards goal.

On the other hand, Stars coach Owen da Gama gave six of his pre-season signings in Tshifhiwa Mbooi, Robert Ng’ambi, Elias Ngwepe, ­Lantshene Phalane, Sipho ­Nkosi and Innocent Mkhabela their ­debuts.

Ng’ambi was replaced by ­Solly Mathe early in the first half as a result of an injury.

Young winger Joseph Molangoane showed glimpses of genius on the wing, but at times ­resorted to showboating and falling about easily when ­tackled which rendered him rather harmless against the ­experienced Ajax leftback Brett Evans.

Lantshene repaid his coach with a tapped-in goal 17 ­minutes into play, following a cross from Thuso Phala.

Ngwepe scored Stars’ second goal when he beat Sean Roberts from the penalty spot in the 31st minute after an Ajax player was judged to have handled Henrico Botes’ goal-bound shot.

Stars shut up shop in the ­second half, allowing Ajax to keep the ball in the middle and refuse to give them a sniff at goal, resulting in a rather uninspiring game of football.

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