Istars shine in phakisa cup

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

Free State Stars became the first team to lift the inaugural Phakisa Cup at DP de Villiers Stadium in Sasolburg on Saturday.

They beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 in the final watched by a sizeable crowd.

Former Pirates striker Paulus Masehe scored Ea Lla Koto's solitary goal as early as the third minute when his power-packed shot was deflected past bemused Pirates goalie Robert Modiadie.

From there, both teams played their hearts out in search of another goal but squandered great opportunities.

Stars' goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene made daring saves from Pirates duo Thembile Kanono and Irvin Mhlambi on the stroke of full-time to make sure the trophy remained in Free State.

Ea Lla Koto had fielded the same squad that had earlier defeated Kaizer Chiefs 4-2 on penalties in the first semifinal after a goalless draw in regulation time.

Pirates had a completely new side from the one that did extremely well in disposing of Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 in the second semi.

Mike Mokoena, Stars' boss, said he was impressed with his charges' performance in both matches.

"This was a great achievement for the new Ghanian coach, David Duncan, considering the fact that he had only two days to prepare the team for the tournament,'' said an excited Mokoena.

"I could not have asked for more from the boys than to bag the inaugural crown, beating both Soweto giants on the same day.

"We are prepared to defend it next season," he added.

Generally, the fans had fun though the teams replaced close to six players at the same time with managers trying their best to assess the new players.

There were no ugly incidences at the stadium as was earlier feared, despite the involvement of crowd pullers Amakhosi, Pirates, Celtic and Stars.