Highlands survive late scare to edge Cosmos in NFD opener

Ananias Gebhardt of Jomo Cosmos during the National First Division 2016/17 match between Jomo Cosmos and Black Leopards at Tsakane Stadium in Tsakane, South Africa on 26 April 2017 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Ananias “Junior” Gebhardt of Jomo Cosmos 

Jomo Cosmos lost their opening NFD game of the season on Saturday afternoon, going down by a lone goal to hosts Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium.

Mothobi Mvala scored the only goal in the opening minutes of the match.

Thato Lingwati captained a new-look Cosmos side in the absence of suspended defensive rock Frederic Nsabiyumva and playmaker Linda “Figo” Mntambo, who was on international duty for Bafana Bafana in Zambia.

Ezenkosi boss, Jomo Sono gave starting shirts to new signings like goalkeeper King Ndlovu, midfielders Tebogo Mabula, Silas Maziya, and striker Noah Maimela with the hope of striking some rhythm.

But it was the Lions of the North who snatched the winner as early as the fourth minute of the game when Mothobi Mvala scrambled the ball home amidst offside calls from the Ezenkosi bench and players.

It looked like a legitimate call but referee Phillip Tinyani stood his ground and awarded the goal.

Both sides gave it their all in a cagey first half that witnessed little goalmouth action.

Cosmos came back stronger in the second half as the introduction of Mmiseni “Ndishi” Ndlovu and Karabo “Shakes” Mkhabela seemed to open up the game for the visitors who launched a spate of relentless attacks.

Macuphu went close to tying the score at some point, but saw his shot saved by Highland Park’s veteran shot-stopper Tapuwa Kapini.

The experienced goalkeeper did a yeoman’s job to stop further attempts by Ezenkosi’s frontline men, and in a remarkable instance, stretched high to punch Mkhabela’s goal bound shot over the bar.

Cosmos have a chance to claim their first win of the season when they host University of Pretoria (AmaTuks) next weekend in Vosloorus.

STARTING LINE-UPS
Highlands (4-4-2): Kapini, Rae, Katjiukua, Sibande, Luthuli, Mbatha, Mvala, Mofokeng, Ledwaba, Shalulile, Mashumba.
Cosmos (4-4-2): Ndlovu – Laqwela, Haoseb, Lingwati (Capt), Gebhardt – Mabula, Jnr Sono, Makobela, Maziya – Maimela (Mmiseni Ndlovu 48’), Mxolisi Macuphu

-Mark Ogagan

 

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