By Andries Ndlovu
Gateway Royal Stars have made history after winning their first official derby by three goals to nil over resident rivals, Truman United, in a UJ Campus Football Promotion League match.
Yesterday marked the end of the long wait for the highly anticipated Gateway derby; a match between Gateway Royal Stars and Truman United. The two teams locked horns at UJ’s Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus.
Celebrations started just after the gathering of the Royal Stars players at Gateway before leaving for the match. Gateway manager, Mr Johan was spotted observing Gateway Royal Stars players and supporters chanting.
At the start of the game, it looked pretty convincing that Truman United was ready to set the record as they managed to complete a number of passes with Royal Stars having to protect their territory. Stars coach justified their approach to the game which materialised.
“The formation was newly introduced specifically for this game and I think the players adapted very well to it with time. We had to change from a regular 4-51 formation to a 4-3-3 to try and open their [Truman] defence through counter-attacks,” coach Letsika ‘Baggio’ Emmanuel told The Open Journal.
It was 1-0 at the halftime break, with Ralph Mbonani converting a simple tap-in into the back of the net to put the men in navy blue ahead.
Truman’s chances seemed promising once again in the second half, but the introduction of Wandile ‘Skaapie’ Sifundi completely changed the game. His second touch provided an assist to Thabo Dlozi to extend his sides lead to 2-0. The job was not complete as rampant Skaapie laid a clever through ball to release Sifisokuhle ‘Goso’ Dlamini, who made no mistake but round passed the goalkeeper to pass an unguarded net.
The winning team of the day celebrated from the field till to their residence.
Royal Stars are now three points away from winning the league title, with only one game remaining. Yesterday’s victory saw them topping the table with 24 points, while Truman is in second place with just a point adrift the leaders. Stars, who are holding an unbeaten run in the league, will be looking to maintain their record.
“We just need to be mentally strong and not undermine our next opponents,” said Royal Stars captain Hlulani ‘Tower’ Mashele.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s results left Truman’s chances of a title hanging by a thread. But Captain Thobelani Buthelezi remained adamant that they can claim the championship.
“Yes, we can still become champions; the difference between us [and Royal Stars] is one point. So if they draw, the race remains open,” Buthelezi said.
Royal Stars will take on Mayine FC on Saturday in their last encounter, while Truman will be looking to lick their wounds against Mill Junction. TOJ