/ 28 October 2007

Stars dump Cosmos out of Telkom Cup

An enterprising and attack-minded Free State Stars gobbled up Jomo Cosmos’ cup hopes at a rain-soaked Goble Stadium in Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon and qualified for the semifinals of the Telkom Knockout competition with a deserved 1-0 victory.

In a game in which both teams missed gilt-edged opportunities in abundance, it was ironic that the deciding 70th-minute goal came from what was no more than a half-chance, with a determined Fanyana Dhladhla out-pacing three better-placed Cosmos defenders to a looping cross and guiding the ball into the roof of an empty net.

Cosmos paid the penalty of concentrating on an ultra-cautious approach and handing the initiative to the enthusiastic, never-say-die promoted combination — and it was only after they found themselves a goal down that they increased the tempo and placed Stars under pressure.

Owner-coach Jomo Sono hurried back from a Fifa technical meeting to be with his Cosmos team as they pursued the tournament’s R4,25-million winners’ prize. But he might as well have remained in Zurich and saved himself the agony of watching a team that lacked attacking motivation.

Puddles had formed on the pitch from continuous pre-match rain, but the sun was shining and a rainbow emerged for Stars as they were belatedly rewarded for their territorial domination.

Liberian Anthony Laffor and Zambian Davis Mwape, usually two of Cosmos’ most potent goal-scorers, both missed inviting opportunities, as other chances sailed wide of the posts — and on the few occasions that Stars were confronted by any serious danger, Zambian international goalkeeper Kennedy Mwape proved a pillar of strength.

Stars became over-tense in the final 10 minutes and a number of wild clearances provided Cosmos with chances of equalising. But these went begging — just as they had throughout the earlier portion of the game. — Sapa