Mabena hands Pirates victory
Ndumiso Mabena (Gallo Images)
Soweto - Ndumiso Mabena came off the bench to score the only goal of the game as Orlando Pirates defeated Platinum Stars on Tuesday evening.
Bucs, the reigning Absa Premiership champions, had to work hard for the three points in their first league match at Orlando Stadium thanks to a battling performance from Dikwena, who perhaps deserved more out of the game.
Pirates dominated the opening exchanges and created the best chance of the first stanza when Thulasizwe Mbuyane slipped a good pass to put Daine Klate through on goal, but the winger saw his effort blocked by Stars goalkeeper Jackson Mabokwane.
The hosts created a couple more half opportunities, but in general they lacked the necessary precision in the final third of the field to really stretch the Stars defence.
Dikwena created couple of decent opportunities themselves – Henrico Botes forced a sharp save from Moeneeb Josephs with a left footed shot from a tight angle and Thuso Phala saw one effort flash across the face of goal – but they too looked a little rusty in attack.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, though Pirates coach Julio Leal made a bold double change on the hour mark, sending on two strikers in the shape of Benni McCarthy and Ndumiso Mabena.
And it was the latter who was the hero on the night, scoring with a glancing header on 66 minutes from Oupa Manyisa’s free kick delivery.
Stars pushed hard for an equaliser in the dying minutes of the game and had a couple of penalty appeals, but their inherently cautious approach cost them in the end.
Pirates are presently second on the log, trailing Bloemfontein Celtic (who defeated Black Leopards 2-0) on goal difference. Scorers:
(0) 1 (Mabena 66’)Platinum Stars
(4-2-3-1) Josephs; Jele, Sangweni, Lekgwathi, Thwala; Manyisa, Jali; Mbuyane (Ngobeni 88’), Klate (Mabena 60’), Segolela; Ndulula (McCarthy 60’)
(4-2-3-1) Mabokwane; Thebakeng, Nkosi, Sambu, Ngwepe; Mkhabela, Mathe; Phala, Phalane (Grobler 72’), Malongoane (Mbatha 80’); Botes (Mandaza 53’)