16 Dec 2018 11:10am
By Maqonda Ndlovu
JOHANNESBURG, 16 DEC (NAMPA) African Stars Football Club held Orlando Pirates to a 0-0 draw at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday in a Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League first round match.
The match, played in a half empty stadium, saw Stars produce a masterclass defensive performance to thwart their more fancied opponents and former continental champions in Pirates.
The match started at a fast pace with Pirates clearly looking for a quick goal with their chief striker, Justin Shonga, proving to be a thorn in Stars defence.
In the first 15 minutes of the game, the Zambian striker was denied twice by Stars goalkeeper, Ratanda Mbazuvara.
Stars grew in confidence and started creating their own half chances but did little to trouble Jackson Mabokwane in goal for Pirates.
Returning striker Panduleni Nekundi shot wide after being put through by Aubrey Somseb and could have put Stars ahead at the stroke of half time after being put through by skipper Ronald Ketjijere. However, he was too slow to react and his attempted shot was blocked by Pirates captain Happy Jele to level the two sides tied at 0-0 at the interval.
Stars made a change by bringing in Chrispen Mbewe for Nekundi, in an effort to get the all-important away goal, but the momentum swung to the home teams side and they totally dominated the proceedings.
Pirates pressed Stars in their own half but Mbazuvara produced save after save to deny the home team a goal.
The Namibian goal minder twice saved shots from Vincent Pule and Shonga in the second half before again denying substitute Augustine Mulenga and Thembinkosi Lorch.
The Stars defence also showed great resolve by protecting their goal minder, with Ivan Kamberipa and Denis Tjetjinda defending resolutely against a rampant Pirates to see the game end 0-0.
Stars returning coach Bobby Samaria refused to get carried away by the result, saying his team has not achieved anything yet as they still have 90 more minutes of the second leg.
We got an away result which underlines that if you play with a heart and keep the teams structure, anything is possible in football. The plan was to keep their top four quiet and effectively did that, he said, without giving up his game plan for the return fixture.
The second leg match will be played in Windhoek on 22 December 2018 at Sam Nujoma Stadium.