Despite both teams failing to deliver scorching action on a chilly night, South African premiership giants Mamelodi Sundowns did enough to retain the Dr Hage Geingob Cup when they grappled past Namibian champions African Stars via a narrow 1-0 victory on Saturday night. The venue was the Independence Stadium in Windhoek.
Sundowns’ veteran midfielder Surprise Moriri gave the visitors the lead towards the half-hour mark, when he connected beautifully with Hlompho Kekana’s dipping cross to strongly put the ball into the net with a thundering header.
Sundowns maintained their rhythm and forced some corners, with Anthony Laffor and Cuthbert Malajila time and again trying to get behind Stars’ defence but the Pat-Nevin Uanivi led troops were many a time equal to the task.
Stars enjoyed their fair share of proceedings and had Sundowns under tremendous pressure on more than two occasions. Stars’ new recruits Obrey Amseb and Marius Kotze came close to leveling matters, with Amseb’s pile-driver hitting the upright before Kotze’s efforts were twice parried away by Sundowns’ veteran keeper Kennedy Mwene.
Showing some unmatched individual brilliance, Amseb kept going for Sundowns’ jugular and his efforts almost paid dividends when he laid off a ball for Johannes Seibeb, whose shot went narrowly over the crossbar. The 1st half finished 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
The 2nd half followed the same pattern, with Sundowns dominating proceedings in the middle of the park but time and again failed to convert their chances, a scenario that saw the home side partly take charge of matters in the last quarter of the match but failed to find the back of the net. Final score: 1-0.
Sundowns won the inaugural edition of the Dr Hage Geingob Cup last year after defeating the same opponents, African Stars, with an identical score.
Pitso Mosimane’s men edged Primeiro De Agosto of Angola 5-3 on penalties in the tournament opener earlier in the week following a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time, while Stars also negotiated their past Julinho Sporting via penalties after a 1-all draw.
In the third place play-off on Saturday, the Angolan side Primeiro De Agosto managed a 1-0 victory over Julinho Sporting.
The four contesting teams, the tournament’s sponsors, football officials and a number of influential figures in society were treated to a gala dinner at State House after the tournament.
Stars recently signed Marius Kotze, Obrey Amseb and Ivan Kamberipa from Rebels; Romario Mans from Touch & Go; Trust Mkandawiria from Zambian outfit Power Dynamo and Wellington Maposa from Township Rollers in Botswana.