By Andries Ndlovu
Gateway Royal stars were crowned champions of the 2017 UJ Internal Promotion League at the AW Muller B Field on Saturday, after winning their last game by a record scoring of more than 3 goals since the start of this season.
Royal Stars visited Mayine F.C. in a game that was a must win for them to win the league and earn promotion to the UJ Major League. A reign of eight goals could not be denied but all counted in the 8-0 humiliation of the home team – Mayine. A first eleven with only two changes from the one that emerged victorious in the Gateway derby was too strong for Mayine F.C.
The visitors proved to be hungry for a goal when highly rated Wandile ‘Skaapie’ Sifundi was brought inside the eighteen area box and the referee was correctly positioned to award a penalty in the first minute.
Royal Stars Captain Hlulani ‘Tower’ Mashele made no mistake and converted from the penalty spot with his hard and low strike to put his side ahead. The captain gained confidence from his teammates who encouraged him to take the penalty.
“Royal Stars doesn’t have a regular penalty taker, what happened is that my teammates said they trust me as a captain and they gave me the ball,” Mashele told The Open Journal.
“The approach was simple since I am used to taking penalties; so, I just had to choose a side without worrying about the goalkeeper,” he added.
A wonderful run by Bandile ‘Small’ Yende paid off when he dribble-passed three players from the left flank to make a wonderful finish, and Sizwe Tukulu didn’t wait long to register his name amongst the scorers and extend the lead to three nil.
There is plenty of talent in the team. Just like Small, Thabo Dlozi took on the easy opponents to beat, but this time right from the middle of the park to hit the net. It was goal after goal as Zithobile ‘D’ baba’ Mbazwana capitalised on a lovely through ball by Sibongiseni ‘Sbo’ Mncwango.
It seemed the coach’s instruction was considered as he asked for at least two goals in the first half. His boys rose to the occasion offering him an extra three, which didn’t come as a surprise to the coach.
“The spirit of the players was too high so it was right to make them think about goals. I used a very young team; so, flexibility was key to getting the goals fast,” the Royal Stars coach Letsika ‘Baggio’ Sebakeng explained. “I was also worried that if they don’t score as early as in the first half, they would start panicking and lose it [League] in their hands.”
The stars continued to dominate in the second half, but the 4-3-3 formation was lost after a few substitutions. Nonetheless, they managed to add three more goals, thanks to a brace from substitute Tshepo Thabo and a tap-in by Mbazwana – who also completed his brace.
“Everyone wanted to score since it looked easy to score. So, it’s difficult to keep the shape in such situations. But overall, I was so delighted to win the league with the team that wanted it most,” Sebokeng said.
Only one man could be named the man of the match in the form of Bandile Yende for his goal, a lovely chip to assist Thabo to complete his brace and his (Yende’s) entertaining skills that kept the crowd cheering in the stands.
Having completed the league with an unbeaten run, Royal Stars have now been promoted to major league and the Gateway management has allegedly said to be preparing something to award the team for such an achievement. “The management is still going to set up a meeting about such,” Sebokeng said. TOJ