Stellenbosch edge Galaxy on penalties in CKO final

Stellenbosch edge Galaxy on penalties in CKO final
Stellenbosch FC players celebrate a goal scored by Sinethemba Mthobisi Mngomezulu of Stellenbosch FC during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 game between Stellenbosch FC and Maritzburg United at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on 4 October 2022 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Saturday Dec 16, 2023. 16:14

Stellenbosch FC edged TS Galaxy 5-4 on penalties to triumph in the Carling Knockout final, played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

The teams drew 1-1 after extra time, with the Rockets claiming a first-half lead via Lehlogonolo Mojela and Ismael Toure replying in the second stanza for Stellies.

Ironically, Mojela then had the misfortune of missing the key penalty in the first round of ‘sudden death’ kicks, allowing Darrel Matsheke to score the decisive kick for Stellenbosch, who claimed the title and secured a first major trophy in the club’s history.

Stellenbosch looked the more polished and cohesive team in the early stages and should have claimed the lead on 19 minutes. They put together a sweeping passing move which took them from deep in their own half to TS Galaxy’s penalty area, but Iqraam Rayners saw his low shot well saved by goalkeeper Fiacre Ntwari.

Galaxy struggled to create attacking opportunities and were reduced to long-range efforts, most notably ambitious shots from Thato Khiba and Higor Vial which were easily handled by Stellenbosch goalkeeper Sage Stephens.

However, the Rockets began to exert some pressure late in the first half and were rewarded with a fine goal in the 43rd minute: a Galaxy corner kick was only half cleared to the edge of the penalty area and collected by Lehlogonolo Mojela, who shifted to his right foot and struck a powerful effort which flashed into the top corner of the net for 1-0.

Mojela’s strike took a slight deflection off a Stellenbosch defender, but looked destined for the back of the net regardless and ensured that the underdogs enjoyed a one-goal advantage at the half-time interval.

The teams traded chances at the start of the second half, with Stellies’ Devin Titus driving an effort straight at the ‘keeper, before Galaxy substitute Samir Norkovic whipped a curling effort just off target.

The Western Cape side opted for a triple change just after the hour mark, introducing Antonio Van Wyk, Andre De Jong and Nhlanhla Mgaga to try and get themselves back into the game.

And they were rewarded, after a spell of pressure, with an equaliser in the 74th minute, as Ismael Toure latched onto a loose ball after Galaxy failed to clear their lines and cracked home a powerful left-footed shot for 1-1.

Galaxy almost reclaimed the lead on 82 minutes when Sphiwe Mahlangu found himself one-on-one with the keeper after scrambling through the defence, but Stephens made an outstanding save to keep the scores level.

The Rockets also had a very strong claim for a penalty turned down by the referee in injury time (with Nurkovic clearly tripped up by a defender), before the final whistle was blown to send the match to an extra 30 minutes.

The additional half hour produced few chances at either end, and the only dramatic moment arrived with just a couple of minutes remaining when Stellenbosch were reduced to 10 men, as Fawaaz Basadien received a straight red card – seemingly for some verbals in the direction of Mojela and/or the referee.

Stellenbosch FC (0) (1) 1 (Toure 74’)

TS Galaxy (1) (1) 1 (Mojela 43’)

After extra time, Stellenbosch won 5-4 on penalties

Stellenbosch: Stephens, van Rooyen, Moloisane, Toure, Basadien, Titus (Sekgota 99’), Palace (Matsheke 91’), Nduli (Mgaga 62’), Oura (Van Wyk 62’), Rayners (Boji 99’), Adams (De Jong 62’)

Galaxy: Ntwari, Munyai (Nurkovic 46’), M. Mahlangu, Sanoka, Letsoenyo, Sebelebele (Radebe 106’), Khiba (Semache 76’), Vidal (Mbunjana 66’), Mvelase, S, Mahlangu (Mbatha 90’), Mojela

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