Ezenkosi midfielder, Linda “Figo” Mntambo (L) closes down Bucks winger, Madumetja ‘Di Maria’ Khwinana during the game.
Jomo Cosmos boosted their chances of moving up the National First Division (NFD) ladder when they held Mthatha Bucks to a goalless draw at Mthatha Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The eagerly anticipated clash had to be delayed by 35 minutes because of heavy thunderstorms that partly damaged the recently constructed roof of the VIP area.
When the game eventually kicked off, soaked Bucks faithful got behind the team and sang throughout the game.
The home side went into the game hoping to start 2017 on a high, but had to share the spoils with a determined Cosmos outfit.
Both sides had their fair share of opportunities but lacked the killer instinct in the final third of the pitch.
Bucks coach, Ian Palmer gave new recruits Sydney Masana, Sibusiso Hlubi and Khwinana ‘Di Maria’ Madumetja a run and they did not disappoint.
‘Di Maria’ caused problems for the Cosmos defence with his skill and speed; perhaps he could have topped his performance with a goal had he converted the few chances that came his way.
Hlubi was rock solid at the back while Masana showed aggression but his finishing let him down.
His combination with leading Bucks goal scorer Mazwi ‘Jomo’ Mncube was a marvel to watch with Masana holding the ball well for the attacking midfielder.
But despite all their hard work upfront, they just could not find the back of the net.
The ever impressive petite Bucks midfielder Bafana Dlamini dictated the pace of the game before he sort of fizzled out of the game in the second half.
Bucks central defender Gift Sithole put in a few goal saving tackles as he covered well for left back Sonwabo Maqokolo who was beaten for pace by pacey Cosmos winger Tebogo Makobela on several occasions in the first half.
Even though he was disappointed with the results, Palmer said he was happy with how his charges had applied themselves.
“I think we had a fair share of the game. We had three to four definite chances in the first half and I think if our finishing was clinical, we could have easily gone 2-0 up in the first half.
“In the second half, Cosmos came back a little bit stronger and we thought ‘okay, let’s consolidate and try and catch them on the counter’. A win would have been perfect for me, but I won’t say no to the draw,” he said.
Cosmos mentor, Jomo Sono also felt had they taken their chances, they would have achieved what many teams have failed to do since November 2015 in Mthatha – win.
“We should have wrapped it up, especially in the first 20 minutes, because we wanted an early goal. We’re happy with a point [because] it will take us far,” he said.
“A draw away is good. There’s not too many teams that will win here. We played very well, especially since it was an away. We’ve got only three supporters here.
“The stadium was full of Bucks people. The support here are very good. They’re not biased, they’re not rude. They just enjoy football.”
Ezenkosi surprised many when instead of sitting back and using counter-attacks to try and catch Amathol’amnyama on the break, Sono’s men took the game to the Eastern Cape team.
“We’ve got too many good players who can play with the ball,” the former Bafana Bafana tactician said.
The draw took Ezenkosi’s points haul to 23 in 16 matches as they slipped down to 6th, while Bucks are 8th with 22 points from a similar number of matches.
Cosmos next host Milano United on Wednesday at their new home ground, Tsakane Stadium in Brakpan.
MTHATHA BUCKS: Nkala – Hlubi, Maqokolo, Sithole, Lubisi – Mbhele, Dlamini, Mokoena, Khwnana – Mncube, Masana
COACH: Ian Palmer
COSMOS: Davies Modiba – Tumisang Mashele, Frederic Nsabiyumva, Thato Lingwati, Shane Thompson (Lefa Hlongwane) – Ananias Gebhardt, Denzil Haoseb, Linda Mntambo, Wiseman Maluleke (Tebogo Tlolane), Tebogo Makobela – Mxolisi Macuphu
COACH: Dr. E.M. ‘Jomo’ Sono
BOOKED: Modiba, Mntambo
-Additional material and pic from dispatchlive.co.za