Cosmos in the stars after Wits shock

Cup Competitions

BRAKPAN – If you know the history between Jomo Cosmos and Bidvest Wits, then the fact that it required a few extra minutes beyond normal time to settle this shouldn’t surprise you.

That is how they roll, and it ended in a 5-4 victory for Ezenkosi on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.

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Linda Mntambo (left), who scored Jomo Cosmos’ goal, tries to win possession off Phumlani Ntshangase of Wits. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePixJomo Sono celebrates Linda Mntambo’s goal for Jomo Cosmos against Wits. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePix

In the heart of the Tsakane township on the East Rand, it was an evening made for football. The weather meant there were no extra layers required to see the night out for this Nedbank Cup last-16 clash.

And there was hardly any VIP treatment for anyone – CEOs, club administrators and journalists.

Football was taken to the people, but these two sides were killjoys.

Sure, there were goals – Linda Mntambo breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time to give hosts Cosmos the lead, and Mogakolodi Ngele cancelling it out shortly after the hour mark – but the fans were starved of flair, speed and more goals.

They made of it what they could, even if some of them were asking for blankets and pillows to escape this snooze fest.

Cosmos had nothing to lose, which explains why they perhaps showed more urgency than Wits, who were a changed side as coach Gavin Hunt looked to give his fringe players a run.

He was presumably rotating with the incredibly busy schedule in mind this April, and maybe even with one eye on their CAF Confederation Cup first leg playoff at home against Smouha from Egypt on Saturday.

But the non-regulars didn’t argue their case here, being outdone – for the most part – by a team in a division lower than the elite league.

With Wits’ quality this season, this should have been wrapped up early, especially considering that Cosmos are struggling in their quest for promotion even though they still have a slim chance of being among the teams fighting for Premier League status some time in June.

Jomo Sono, their coach, had told a television interviewer before the game that he’d told his men to go out and enjoy themselves and dribble, because they were probably underdogs and would not make it past this round of the cup tie.

His players followed the instructions for a short while, proving to be quite stubborn and probably even the better side throughout.

Wits had more of the ball in the second half following the introduction of speedster Phakamani Mahlambi and veteran Daine Klate, with Hunt taking off the ineffective Jabulani Shongwe and Ejike Uzoenyi.

Mahlambi was troublesome, his bursts of pace almost uncontainable for the Cosmos defence.

But they, too, were not enough to help Wits put this game to bed.

Klate’s corner did connect with Ngele’s head in the 65th minute for the equaliser. But it was huff-and-puff stuff here.

It needed the dreaded penalty shoot-out to settle it in the end.

Tsakane, you were robbed. But an incredible consolation was seeing Cosmos progress to the quarter-finals of the cup.

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