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Welkom Rugby Stadium
25/10/2008 15:00

John Arwuah of Maritzburg battles for the ball with Paulus Masehe of Free State Stars

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Sibisi sends Free State Stars through

Posted: 25 October 2008 Time: 17:11

Diyo Sibisi sealed Free State Stars' place in the quarterfinals of the Telkom Knockout on Saturday, scoring a brace against Maritzburg United at the Charles Mopedi Stadium.

In the final minutes of the game Stars 'keeper Kennedy Mweene was taken off after receiving a blow to the head and was knocked unconscious. He was rushed to hospital immediately to receive treatment.

Maritzburg coach Gordon Igesund was back on the pitch, after a stomach bug sent him to hospital this week. The veteran coach also had a goalpost fall on his shoulder in training, but insists he is fit, and dismissed reports of his bad health as "blown out of preportion".

The match began badly for the Team of Choice when a mix-up and some miscommunication in defence between Dikilu Bageta and Tshepo Mashishi allowed Diyo Sibisi of Free State through on goal and one-on-on with the goalkeeper.

Sibisi made no mistake and finished expertly to put Stars 1-0 up in the third minute.

Maritzburg tried to hit back right away, and nearly did so in the tenth minute when a long ball from the back was flicked on to Fadlu Davids who went round the keeper, but the Free State defence recovered in time to clear up the danger.

The game soon settled into a regular pattern with Maritzburg controlling the middle of the park, attacking down the flanks and shooting on sight, often from long range. Stars sat back, absorbing the pressure, and tried to strike on the counter-attack, but they were continuously either caught off-side or guilty of making the wrong decision when on the ball.

A flurry of long-range shots came in from United, from Elias Ngwepe in the 13th minute, Tony Tsabedze in the 21st minute and John Arwuah in the 37th minute, but all went agonisingly wide, just shaving the wrong side of the upright each time.

However, despite their lack of possession, it was Free State Stars who came closest to grabbing another goal before half-time, when Sthembiso Ngcobo found himself unmarked in the box when a cross from the right came, but his header was brilliantly saved by the American goalie Hunter Gilstrap.

The second half continued much like the first, with a number of long-range shots coming in from the team of choice, but as the half progressed Stars slowly started to become more involved in the midfield and created a number of chances for themselves. Ngcobo must have thought himself the unluckiest man on the pitch hitting the crossbar and the up-right respectively within the space of a minute. First, Stars broke down the right flank and delivered a telling cross that found Ngcobo unmarked, but he headed the ball onto the crossbar. The ball deflected of the bar and fell to the feet of a Stars player on the right flank again, who crossed the ball once more and again Ngcobo met it, but this time he hit the post.

Sibisi wrapped up matters in the 83rd minute when he hit home his second goal into an empty net. A long-ball from Kennedy Mweene found substitute Jimmy Kauleza on the right flank, and he showed some brilliance to beat his marker before laying the ball of to Sibisi who easily slotted the ball home, 2-0.

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