Team of Choice punish Dikwena

Just as they did when they dug deep to register a 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8, Maritzburg fought hard away from home to overcome Dikwena in a dull encounter.

The Team of Choice did not play the most entertaining football, nor were they dominant throughout the encounter, but they did well to make the most of the few chances they created.

Siphesihle Ndlovu created both goals for Maritzburg, first setting up Deolin Mekoa in the 75th minute before playing through a delightful pass for Lebohang Maboe to seal all three points and get the league season off to a great start.

Mekoa has previously been linked with a move to Sundowns, but a deal is said to have fallen through and coach Fadlu Davids will be delighted that one of the team’s most prized possessions is still with the side.

This was not the most entertaining game, but Maritzburg will be more concerned about the three points they were able to collect away from home.

Dikwena will be disappointed that they did not take advantage of playing at home. One of the big problems for Stars last season was their tendency to drop points at home and they will be hoping that this does not happen as regularly as it did last term.

They should have won the game because they had the better chances but they were just not ruthless in the final third.

Dikwena left-back Siyabonga Zulu was first to force a save from Maritzburg goalkeeper Bongani Mpandle. His free-kick, a cross-cum-shot, curled towards the Maritzburg goal posts but Mpandle was alert and punched the ball out for a corner.

The rest of the half did not produce much in front of goal, but Zulu was called to make a timely tackle three minutes from the break, to stop last weekend's MTN8 hero Evans Rusike in his tracks.

Rusike was through on goal, but Zulu timed his tackle well to get the ball out for a corner just as the Zimbabwean striker was lining up a shot with his left foot.

At the other end of the pitch, Stars defender Willem Mwedihanga hit the side netting with a header from a corner kick on the stroke of half time.

Davids was forced to make a change before the break, bringing on Siyanda Xulu for injured captain Denis Weidlich. Former Kaizer Chiefs man Xulu came on for his second appearance for the Team of Choice, after making his debut against former club Sundowns in the MTN8.

Eager to establish an early foothold, Stars went on the attack early in the second period and almost broke the deadlock in the 50th minute when Thobani Kunene threatened with a header from an Abia Nale cross.

Five minutes later Maritzburg’s lanky striker Rusike was sniffing around in the Stars box again, looking for that opener. His fierce shot forced a save from Mbongeni Mzimela, as Maritzburg won a corner which was easily defended by Dikwena.

Maritzburg did get the goal in the 75th minute, thanks to Mekoa. Maboe then sealed all three points a minute from time with a cool finish.

It was not a great start for Dikwena coach Peter Butler, who was on the bench for the first time in the PSL.

Stars: Mzimela, Mwedihanga, Zulu, Sithole, Mere, Ng'ambi, Matlakala (Msomi 67'), Nale, Kunene, Mkhabela, Shilongo (Majingo 85') 

Subs: Visser, Mlilo, Msomi, Mpeta, Majingo, Senne, De Jongh

MaritzburgMpandle, Fransman, Sanoka, Weidlich (Xulu 39'), Shandu, Ndlovu, Makaringe, Mekoa, Maboe, Van Wyk (Kunene 46'), Rusike

Subs: Ofori, Xulu, Saal, Mokate, Fillecia, Kunene, De Rueck