AFC Komani Stars bring down log leaders Phoenix Birds

50/50: AFC Komani Stars, black, racing to the ball to play a counter attack against Phoenix. Picture: UVIWE JARA

Phoenix Birds FC looked to extend their lead at the top of the Safa Chris Hani men’s regional league in stream C2 when they took on AFC Komani Stars on Sunday at Dumpy Adams.

Going into the game, Phoenix was sitting in first place while AFC Komani Stars was fourth on the log.

From the first whistle both teams showed determination for the win.  AFC Komani Stars pressed forward into the wind and managed to net a goal by Likhwithemba Makeli.

Going into halftime, Phoenix was trailing by a single goal. High level, quality football continued to be displayed in the second half with Phoenix taking their turn to defend against the wind.

Intense pressure from AFC Phoenix saw Kuhle Baliso extending the lead early in the half. Shortly after that, Ongama Petse slammed a nail in the  coffin with a third goal for AFC Komani Stars.

Phoenix nonetheless regained their strength and in the dying minutes netted two goals.

Their play started to yield positive results as they tested the keeper with high balls. When the opportunities came, they did not miss. Lutho Mbili swooped in on a mishandled ball by the  keeper who was locked in aerial combat with Phoenix. Mbili made no mistake.

A continuation of their strategy saw them having an opportunity to score the second goal in yet another mishandled ball by the opponent’s goalkeeper and Athenkosi Mase found himself  looking at an open net.

When the final whistle blew, It was Komani Stars who came out on top, 3-2.

Phoenix coach, Ringo Klaas said: “The match was alright but not having to warm up before the game played a role in how we played. Also, refereeing ourselves and thinking a player is off and the refereeing team sees it differently.”

Coming to the game thinking they already had it in the bag was one of their mistakes that needed rectifying.

“At half time we made our players understand that they needed to play our own football and not let stress affect them,” he said of his coaching strategy.

Luzuko Gangca, AFC Komani Stars team manager, said: “Some of the players were not available, and we still  managed to secure maximum points. My boys played very well and showed a lot of dedication. We knew that the game would be a tough one because we are playing with league leaders so my boys did well indeed!”

Playing against Phoenix was a huge challenge for his side and he was delighted to snatch a win which brings them closer to the top.