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23 Mar 2008 20:30
The small, if noisy, crowd at the Oppenheimer Stadium in Orkney on Sunday afternoon was indicative of what those who stayed away anticipated from the soulless zero-all Premier Soccer League draw between Moroka Swallows and Jomo Cosmos.
Two highly competent goalkeepers in Greg Etafia (Swallows) and Avril Phali (Cosmos); two defensive-minded coaches in Ian Gorowa (Swallows) and Jomo Sono (Cosmos), who viewed defeat with the dread of the plague; a pitch that partly resembled a cabbage patch; and two teams lacking in enterprise all suggested the mundane proceedings would end goalless.
And so it turned out, in spite of the fact that both teams should have pursued three points with a degree of urgency—Cosmos because they are precariously placed second-from-bottom in a battle against relegation, and Swallows to ensure qualification for next season’s top eight competition.
Instead, the tense, taut Cosmos combination, who owner-coach Jomo Sono admitted were woeful in the first half, and Swallows, who were only marginally more purposeful and inventive, stuttered their way through 90 minutes of ungainly soccer.
With more opportunities at their disposal, the Birds had the opportunities to bury Cosmos, but they started out, surprisingly in the circumstances, with only one recognised striker in James Chamangwa and left Sandile Ndlovu on the bench—as well as a couple of other attack-minded players.
It was Chamangwa who came closest to scoring in the 34th minute when a cross from Japhet Zwane on the left flank left the Zambian international with only Phali to beat.
But the league’s top scorer delayed his shot long enough to enable Phali to make a breathtaking, point-blank save that gave Cosmos what they had ostensibly come to achieve—a point in the struggle to avoid relegation.—Sapa
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