I really would like to say that I was shocked when Platinum Stars beat Orlando Pirates to win the MTN8 title this past Saturday, but I was not, and we all shouldn’t, because in all honesty a team that finished second in the league last season should give the big guns of the league a run for their money. Stars went a mile further by even defeating the Sea Robbers.
Because of Pirates’ success and experience, Dikwena went into the final as underdogs, although they had the better goal difference to Pirates as far as the previous matches in the competition were concerned. They had been coming second for a while and most people going into Saturday’s encounter at the Moses Mabhida Stadium thought history was just going to repeat itself.
When captain Vuyo Mere led his team from the tunnel onto the pitch, the confidence in his team didn’t need one to be a rocket scientist to notice. They walked in with their heads held high, just how winners should. Robert Ng’ambi has really been fantastic this season, hasn’t he? His partnership in the middle of the park with Issa Sarr, who eventually won man of the match, was just great to watch. They matched the experienced partnership of Andile Jali and Oupa Manyisa pound for pound. If it was not for Thabo Matlaba’s brilliant strike, which left Stars ‘keeper Siyabonga Mphotshane, Ng’ambi’s header in the early minutes of the second half could have handed Stars the win on regulation time.
At the back, Dikwena had the young Tshepo Gumede standing his ground alongside seasoned campaigners like Benson Mhlongo, Vuyo Mere and Elias Ngwepe. For the better part of the match he kept Pirates target man Lennox Bacela at bay, which eventually resulted in Bucs boss Roger De Sa opting for a third striker. Ndumiso Mabena came in to help Kermit Erasmus and Bacela in the 82nd minute.
From all the games that Stars have played this season, one can feel safe to say that they are a complete team this season and, contrary to popular belief, they seem to have dealt pretty well with the loss of last season’s key players Innocent Mkhabela and Thuso Phala, who joined former coach Cavin Johnson at SuperSport United.
Obviously when most Stars’ players are asked how they did well they’ll say ‘it’s all about teamwork’ but judging from the fighting spirit they showed throughout the entire match, Mere and Mhlongo deserve a special mention. They had won it before. They knew what it took and they dug very deep to do it for (and with) their younger team mates and that’s leadership at its best. Congratulations Dikwena, now get all those North West people to the stadium.