Brave Dikwena draw final CAF encounter
Posted: 8 July 2017 Time: 18:00
Platinum Stars were handed the Group B wooden spoon despite their spirited 2-2 draw with Mbabane Swallows in their final CAF Confederation Cup group stage clash on Saturday evening.
The youthful Dikwena side started the encounter on the back foot, with Swallows veteran Wonder Nhleko defying his age with a pacey run down the right, his fierce effort on goal hit straight at gloveman Steven Hoffman early on as the shot-stopper fisted the ball away.
Nhleko, however, would soon have a second bite at the cherry, and this time make it count as he smacked home a free-kick 21 minutes in, leaving Hoffman stranded as the visitors took the lead.
Stars’ patient build-up play reaped no rewards as the visitors, content with their early lead, snuffed out the home side’s fruitless attacks to take a 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
The home side started the second half with more vigour, Gift Links forcing a good save from the opposition goalkeeper before 19-year-old Katlego Khunou unleashed a powerful drive, with Sphiwe Mnguni’s follow-up hit wide.
The hosts dominated the play as the half wore on, Links firing another shot over the bar before substitute Abia Nale’s tame effort was aimed directly at the Swallows gloveman.
Against the run of play, Swallows found their second from a corner as Sabelo Ndzinisa headed home his sixth goal of the campaign.
Yet Dikwena continued to fight and brought a goal back ten minutes from time as Robert Ng’ambi bundled the ball over the line at the second attempt to give his side hope.
Stars were almost level as Nale watch his shot bounce out off the post, yet he was soon celebrating minutes later as Ng’ambi guided his header from a corner into the back of the net to draw Dikwena level.
Nale again was in the thick of the action late on as he curled an effort narrowly over the bar, yet the hosts were unable to find a winner as the spoils were shared, leaving Stars winless in six group stage matches and bottom of the Group B standings.
Elsewhere, CS Sfaxien leapfrogged rivals MC Alger with a resounding 4-0 victory in Tunisia to top the group and join the Algerians in the knockout phase of the competition.
Stars XI: Hoffman, Mere, Mlilo, Mnguni, Lesabane (Nale 64'), Mwedihanga, Mathe K., Msomi (Sithole 60'), Khounou (Senne 74'), Links, Ng'ambi
Subs: Chibwe, Mabule, Mphahlele