Still in the game

2013-03-31 10:00

Platinum Stars gave fellow title chasers Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates a reason to look over their shoulder as the race for the Absa Premiership enters the home straight with eight fixtures remaining.

On paper, the share of the spoils in Phokeng between Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday seemed a fair result, but Stars will rue a lost opportunity as they are the outside challengers to the championship, especially after fourth-placed Free State Stars lost to Moroka Swallows on Friday.

Stars will meet the Free State outfit away on Wednesday.

For Sundowns, a point yesterday was not sufficient to aid their bid for a top-eight finish.

The Brazilians arrived in North West on the back of two successive defeats and coach Pitso Mosimane had hoped to mark his 10th league game in charge of the ailing former champions on a positive note.

This after his side took an early lead in a game where he was forced to make a tactical change to his rearguard after scorer and defender Alje Schut was sent off in the 25th minute.

Stars striker Henrico Botes was also implicated in the off-the-ball altercation by referee Victor Gomes, and was red-carded.

On a positive for Johnson and his troops, Stars still have to meet Chiefs, whom they handed their only defeat so far this season.

Yesterday was also another impressive run by Stars, who have lost just once in 11 league matches at home.

For Mosimane, the coming weeks means he will have to come up with ways of taking full advantage of playing three of four of their coming league encounters at home, including the Nedbank Cup quarterfinal tie against Stars in Pretoria in two weeks’ time.

The two sides’ imminent meeting in Pretoria on April 14 should be a bit easier to plan, as the two coaches have taken notes from their respective sides’ shortfalls yesterday.

Sundowns had on more than one occasion stolen all the points but the follies, such as those of experienced campaigner Teko Modise, and that of substitute Richard Henyekane in the closing stages, should serve as a specific area for Mosimane to work on.

Stars again demonstrated their trademark passing game and patient build-ups, and even if they don’t come close to annexing their maiden league title, Johnson and his technical staff have done just enough to see the unfashionable side attaining a credible finish.

» In another match, Bidvest Wits beat Golden Arrows 2-1

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