“Bright, bright sun shining day” is the best way to describe the conditions out at Royal Bafokeng Stadium where Platinum Stars FC set about their Telkom Knockout defence against Mamelodi Sundowns FC in the semi-finals clash last Sunday.
As the star studded PSL champions took the field without Alje Schut and Kennedy Mweene due to injury, it would have been difficult to harbour the thought that Denis Onyango and Mario Booysen were in anyway less qualified to present a though opposition for the Platinum Stars FC. What with Sundown’s early exit of the MTN 8 quarter finals at the hand of their hosts still fresh on their minds, Cheesboy Mokoena and Domingos Pelembe’s return to the starting line up was enough to wipe away any doubt of Masandawana’s potential to secure a spot in the finals in three weeks time.
However it was the beating heat and unforgiving humidity that took its toll in this game, leaving both teams unable to step up the pace from second gear even after the water breaks. Mamelodi Sundowns’ mid-field domination with Modise, Pelembe, Kekana and Mokoena was proving a handful for Platinum Stars at times. They managed to produce plenty of crosses into Platinum Stars’ box which were accompanied by Mpontshane’s customary aerial fumbles. But none of the opportunistic chances were taken as they presented themselves. Platinum Stars defended well for the most part and also proved capable of using the transition ball effectively.
It was not until the fifth minute of the second half when Elzar Rogers broke with pace in a counter from Tintsoalo Tshabalala’s pass, leaving Thabo Nthethe and the on-looking Mario Booysen for dead. He calmly picked a spot and neatly placed the ball in the far post before Onyango could get the chance to advance and close down the angle.
From then on it was one desperate attempt after another by Sundowns to try and pull one back, however the final pass kept letting them down. Coach Pitso Mosimane made a few tactical changes to take advantage of Platinum Stars defensive frailties in the air, when he replaced Cheesboy Mokoena with Mama Niang. But Platinum Stars responded well when they cut down the supply of crosses from either side as Mphahlele contribution in attack went from four crosses in the first stanza to none in the second. Marothi Diale came on to replace Ndumiso Mabena whose heavily strapped right knee from an injury sustained in the first half proved a hindrance with his defensive duties.
Not even the introduction of Katlego Mashego for Khama Billiat in the 72nd min could help “Bafana ba-style” salvage what was proving yet another embarrassing cup defeat at the hand of Dikwena – their sixth defeat out of seven cup encounters in PSL.
Vuyo Mere picked up his fourth yellow of the season which means he will not be available in Platinum Stars’ next fixture. However, it would be Tebogo Langerman who would be most disappointed when he was sent off after a second yellow of the game due to a foul on Mere in the 88th min which puts him out of contention for a place in the team when Mamelodi Sundowns faces the log leaders Kaiser Chiefs FC.
Platinum Stars march on to the final with their Telkom Knockout defence campaign as favourites after knocking out PSL’s log leaders and reigning champions in triumphant style. Not only did they retain they record of being Mamelodi Sundowns’ cup hoodoo, but they also managed to deny South Africa only the second Tshwane Derby cup final in PSL history as they prepare to play SuperSport United FC in the final on the 29th of November 2014.
Man of the Match:
Tshepo Gumede of Platinum Stars FC
- Mere, S. Mponjane L. Mpetha (Platinum Stars FC) T Langerman, K. Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns)