/ 18 May 2008

Stars thump league champions Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns had their minds on Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final and paid the price when Free State Stars thumped the defending Premier Soccer League champions 4-0 in the final league fixture of the season at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Sunday.

Stars led 3-0 at half-time.

Sundowns kept their worst performance of the season until the last game, and new Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana must have left the Super Stadium mystified.

Santana, who is to hold his first major press conference at Safa House on Monday, was accompanied by assistant coaches Pitso Mosimane and Jairo Leal. The Brazilian jetted into town on Sunday morning and decided to watch this match where he hoped to get a feel for his new job, which he officially starts on Wednesday.

Downs were poor and did not have one shot at Stars’ goal in a one-sided opening half.

Coach Trott Moloto rested his two Bafana midfield stars Surprise Moriri and Lerato Chabangu, who were not even named as substitutes. Santana was probably advised to watch this game as both Moriri and Chabangu had been expected to play.

Reserve goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane found himself picking the ball out of his net after only two minutes when Kingston Nkhata made it 1-0.

Downs, who have seen a revival under Moloto, went 2-0 down when Nkhata beat the offside trap and blasted past a rusty-looking Mabokgwane in the 17th minute.

It got worse for the home side when Stars’ top scorer, Diyo Sibisi, made it 3-0 in the 31st minute when he also beat the offside trap and the advancing Downs goalkeeper. It could have been 4-1 four minutes later, but this time Mabokgwane did well to deny Sibisi his second goal.

The alarm bells started ringing on the Downs bench and Moloto brought on veteran Zimbabwean striker Peter Ndlovu for midfielder Elias Ngwepe four minutes from half-time.

It did not get any better in the second half. Downs looked flat and uninterested, and Stars went into a commanding 4-0 lead when Sipho Nkosi headed home a Ruben Cloete corner in the 57th minute.

Nkosi almost scored a second goal in the 62nd minute, but his shot inched past the Downs woodwork.

Downs were just as clueless in the second period and only tested visiting goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene once. The Stars goalkeeper could have taken the afternoon off as the goal-shy home strikers never looked like scoring.

Mabokgwane did well to prevent Siyabonga Mdluli scoring from with a free kick in the last minute.

Santos third

Meanwhile, Santos ended in third position on the league table after beating Platinum Stars 1-0 at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It was Stars who enjoyed the better of the first half, as Santos turned in a lacklustre and jaded performance.

Wayne Roberts kept the home side in the game when he pulled off a good save from Daniel ”Sailor” Tshabalala. George Mofokeng then came close to scoring for Stars in the 28th minute, but his header went just wide.

Robinson Renteria also had a chance for the Tycoons, but failed to hit the target.

Having managed to soak up the pressure, the Cape side took the lead against the run of play in the 39th minute when Erwin Isaacs headed home Thom-Rick October’s corner.

The People’s Team had an early chance in the second half to double their lead, but were twice denied by Tapiwa Kapini, who saved Rodgers’s initial effort as well as the follow-up from Isaacs.

But, as was the case in the first half, Stars were the dominant side and created several goal-scoring chances.

Santos held firm in spite of the efforts of Renteria and Simba Marumo and secured all three points, despite having been second best for most of the 90 minutes.

Pirates sneak into top eight

Orlando Pirates put in one of their best performances of the season, beating AmaZulu 4-1 in their final at the Johannesburg Stadium.

Veteran Pirates striker Gilbert Mushangazhike opened the scoring in the 26th minute, and nine minutes later Rudzani Ramadzuli scored his first goal for the Bucs this season. Teko Modise netted from the spot in the 69th minute and Tlou Segolela finished off the rout in the 75th with a blistering long-range effort.

A Bongani Cashibe cross was headed down into Mushangazhike’s path by Segolela and the Zimbabwean blasted home from close range. An error by the AmaZulu defenders gave Ramadzuli the time to pick a spot as he too smashed his effort into the back of the net.

Pirates winger Lebohang Mokoena beat fullback Majola in the box and he put his hand to the ball to give Bucs a soft penalty, which Modise converted.

Segolela’s finish was the best of the bunch. The striker collected the ball on the edge of the area and made no mistake as he hit the roof of the net.

Sanele Majola scored from the penalty spot in the 86th minute to give the visitors some sort of consolation after a foul by Innocent Mdledle on Thabo Mbaso.

Pirates finish the league in eighth place with 42 points and AmaZulu in 13th with 34 points. — Sapa