RUSTENBURG — Zimbabwean striker Terence Mandaza ensured Platinum Stars were crowned champions of the inaugural OR Tambo Challenge after beating Orlando Pirates 2-1 at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Sunday.
Stars qualified for the final after beating Mamelodi Sundowns 4-3 in a penalty shootout, while Pirates edged out Bloemfontein Celtic 5-4, also on penalties, in the first semi-final.
Bucs started with some lesser known players, including Vusi Mthimkhulu and Bheki Nzunga pairing in central defence.
Stars coach Owen da Gama picked his tried and tested team, on the other hand, with Lebo Ramolosa, Thuso Phala and Joseph “Tity” Malongoane, who had a field day against the inexperienced Pirates defence.
Mandaza should have put Dikwena into the lead in the first minute of the game, after a defensive error by Sibusiso Mnguni, but Pirates keeper Senzo Meyiwa was equal to the task and saved the shot for a corner.
After missing a host of good chances, Stars opened the scoring in the 24th minute through Ramolesa, who picked up a good pass from Malongoane to beat Meyiwa with a low shot.
The Rustenburg-based side continued to pile more pressure on Pirates’ defence and were duly rewarded again when Mandaza finished off some good work by Malongoane in the 43rd minute, to give his side a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Bucs coach Julio Leal brought in Mark Mayambela at the start of second half in a bid to change the complexion of the game.
The introduction of Mayambela and also later Benni McCarthy, proved to be the right tonic for the Soweto giants, and they started to pin Stars back in their own area, but still the chances they created went begging.
Tokelo Rantie’s 90th minute strike was too little too late to save Pirates from defeat as Platinum Stars managed to keep the OR Tambo Challenge trophy at home.