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Orlando Stadium
23/11/2008 15:30

Mark Haskins of Moroka Swallows and Joseph Mkalipa of Platinum Stars.

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Swallows held at Orlando Stadium

Posted: 23 November 2008 Time: 17:49

Moroka Swallows were unable to make a triumphant return to the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday, being held to a goalless draw by Platinum Stars in an error-strewn Absa Premiership match.

On an afternoon when it was hoped that the Birds could emulate Soweto neighbours Orlando Pirates, who opened the stadium on Saturday evening with a pulsating 4-2 win over Thanda Royal Zulu, fans were left disappointed by the stalemate.

The teams were level on points heading into the match, with Stars having only a slightly better goal difference, so it was no surprise that it was an even contest on a hot and sunny day.

Swallows had the better of the opening half hour, though Stars goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini was rarely troubled thanks to some errant shooting from the hosts.

As early as the second minute David Radebe found the ball at his feet in the penalty area, but his turn and shot was well off target.

The Birds' other striker, Elton Morelato, was even more guilty of wasting scoring opportunities, particularly in the 24th minute when Kapini had been drawn off his line to block a Radebe run and the loose ball fell kindly for the Brazilian, only for him to linger in possession when the goal was guarded only by a retreating defender.

By this stage the Tycoons were finding their rhythm and establishing themselves as a threatening force with some rapier-like attacks, however, their finishing was as uninspiring as Swallows’.

Columbian forward Luis Renteria missed the two best chances of the game. First, just past the midway point of the first half, his diving header skipped wide of the near post after a good run and cross from Simba Marumo on the left flank.

In the 42nd minute another good cross from the left, this time from Tshepo Ramokala, handed Renteria another great scoring chance, but he somehow headed wide of the glaring goal with 'keeper Greg Etafia scrambling to get back in position.

Locked at 0-0 at half time, it seemed as if the second game at the new Orlando Stadium would go goalless unless both teams managed to improve their technique and composure in front of goal.

The early signs weren't good, as Morelato again blazed wide of goal within a few seconds of the restart. The Brazilian soon made way for youngster Phumelele Bhengu, while his fellow South American and opposite number Luis Renteria also had his afternoon cut short, Phumudzo Manenzhe given a run out by coach Miguel Gamondi.

Midway through the second half, Marumo came within inches of breaking the deadlock. The dreadlocked striker was unlucky to see his powerful diving header rattle the crossbar, and Manenzhe forced Etafia into a fine save with a long range effort from the rebound.

Ten minutes later the two Stars strikers combined to create another opportunity, Marumo providing the cross and Manenzhe with a glancing header that skidded across the face of goal, though Etafia appeared to have it covered if it had been on target.

Morgan Shivambu should have won the game late on for Swallows, shooting wide from the edge of the penalty area after a good combination with substitute Sandile Ndlovu. The midfielder's miss merely served to encapsulate the disappointing finishing on show throughout the match.

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