Platinum Stars’ hopes of a quarter-final place went up in smoke after surrendering a vital lead to Tunisian outfit, CS Sfaxien, in a tightly contested Group B encounter played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Wednesday evening.
Dikwena looked certain of their first win of the campaign after Bongi Ntuli found the lead on 59 minutes only for Maher Hannachi to cancel it out midway into the second half. This was Hanachi’s second consecutive goal against Platinum, after registering his name on the score cards in the 3-0 win in the reverse a fortnight ago in Sfax.
Sfaxien were the first to probe into the homers defence and almost caught the host off guard when Mohamed Ndoye unleashed a grass cutter shot on 18 minutes which was no trouble for Platinum goalie Mbongeni Mzimela. The Senegalese forward was the point of reference in most of Sfaxien’s build ups.
Few minutes later, Dikwena could have found the opener after Ntuli reacted late to Kaaloul Mohamed Hedi’s spill of the ball and he quickly got up to save before the striker could take a shot.
The North Africans showed off their experience by dominating play, holding most of the possession and making Platinum look for the ball in their own backyard for most part of the game.
A delightful cross by Nigerian Kingsley Sokari almost found the head of Ndoye in the 30th minute but Mzimela did well to stretch out his arm and deprive the forward of a good goal scoring opportunity.
Pressure kept mounting on the home side with their defence almost being unlocked after a good build up from the Tunisians concluded with a good opportunity for Sokari to get the opener, but the Nigerian sent his effort wide.
Coming back from the break, Platinum looked a bit more organised and started to play their usual passing game. Malawian-import, Robert N’gambi who had a quiet game by his standards should have found the lead for his side after finding himself alone with Sfaxien goalie Hedi at his mercy but failed to direct his shot which skied over the crossbar.
Dikwena finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute after a clinical finish from Ntuli saw a hapless Hedi look on as the ball went into the back of the net.
Their joy however did not last long and Hannachi showed class and composure in the box with a side footed finish from a quality cross by Slim Mahjebi to level matters on 76 minutes.
The two goals threw all the tactics out the window as both teams started sending numbers forward in search of the winning goal
N’gambi was back in the picture and could have stolen it right at the death after his header from a Vuyo Mere cross went inches wide.
The result leaves Platinum rooted at the bottom of Group B with just two points from four games. Sfaxien has seven points, one shy of leaders MC Algers of Algeria with Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland in third place with four points.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football