Stars win OR Tambo Challenge

2011-11-13 19:06

Johannesburg - Hosts Platinum Stars struck twice in the first half to beat league champions Orlando Pirates 2-1 in the OR Tambo Soccer Challenge final in Phokeng, outside Rustenburg, on Sunday.

The friendly knockout tournament gave four teams some valuable game time during the international break.

Stars coach Owen da Gama said they had taken the competition seriously, and were pleased to build some momentum before they continue their troubled league campaign.

"These guys did not come here to play, they came here to win," Da Gama said.

"You could see that in the last 20 minutes when Pirates came hard at us.

"This all counts towards the morale of the players, and maybe it's a sign of good things to come, but we know we've got a long way to go."

Lebo Ramolesa gifted Stars the lead when he was given plenty of space, with only Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa to beat, and found the back of the net in the 24th minute.

Closing in on the halftime break, Terrence Mandaza did well to control a cross, turning in the area to score his second of the day and stretch the advantage.

Tokelo Rantjie pulled one back for Pirates in the 90th minute, but Stars held on to win.

Buccaneers coach Julio Leal said the tournament had offered them a great chance to try new combinations.

"This competition was very positive for us during the FIFA break and we used this opportunity to experiment with several players," Leal said.

"We did well in the first game, but in the second game Platinum Stars scored and they made life difficult for us.

"We fought hard and we created three or four very close opportunites, but we must congratulate the hosts."

Earlier, Stars had fought back to beat Mamelodi Sundowns in a penalty shootout in the first semi-final.

Sundowns looked set to progress, after a Mabhuti Khenyeza strike, but Mandaza hit back with four minutes left in regulation time and the match was decided from the spot.

Stars won 4-3 in the penalty shootout as they went on to lift the title.

Pirates had also reached the final on penalties, bagging a 5-4 win over Bloemfontein Celtic after they played to a goalless draw in the second semi-final.