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Football | NFD Playoffs

Phathutshedzo Nange © Backpagepix

Leopards down Stars in first playoff match

Black Leopards defeated Platinum Stars 1-0 in the first promotion/relegation playoff match, staged at a packed Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo on Wednesday afternoon.

Lidoda Duvha claimed the winner early in the second half through Phathutshedzi Nange to take the lead in the three-team competition, which also includes Jomo Cosmos.

The match got off to a laboured start, with both sides struggling to find any rhythm and energy in the opening quarter hour.

The hosts gradually began to take control of proceedings and tested Stars goalkeeper Dino Visser with efforts from Joseph Mhlongo and Meshak Maphangule.

The Rustenburg side’s best chance of the first half came from defender Sphamandla Mlilo, who headed just wide in the 37th minute.

Leopards started the second half strongly and claimed the lead on 53 minutes, with Nange arriving late in the box to meet a low cross before driving a low shot past the right hand of Visser.

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Dikwena looked for a response through long-range efforts from Gerald Phiri and Manti Mekoa, the former of which was tipped over the crossbar by Lidoda Duvha ‘keeper Rotshidzwa Muleka just past the hour mark.

Stars thought they had equalised late in the game when Letsie Koapeng turned home a rebound off the Leopards ‘keeper, but he was flagged offside – a decision which television replays suggested was incorrect.

The second game of the playoffs takes place on Sunday, 20 May, when Jomo Cosmos host Leopards at Vosloorus Stadium.

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Nange 53’)

Platinum Stars 0

Leopards: Muleka, Munyai, Munganga, Masia, Mashoene, Tshepe (Mahangwahaya 79’), Nange, Mudau (Ndou 71’), Nene, Maphangule, Mhlongo

Stars: Visser, Mere (Koapeng 80’), Mthethwa, Mkhabela, Mlilo, Baloyi (Gome 56’), de Jongh, Phiri, Mekoa, Tshabangu (Senne 46’), Ntuli


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