JOHANNESBURG – Platinum Stars put in a courageous second-half performance, but it was not enough as they went down 2-0 to MC Alger in a CAF Confederation Cup Group B match at the Stade du 5 Juillet in Algiers, Algeria, on Friday night.
The result ended Stars’ slim hopes of landing a quarter-final berth in the continental cup competition, while MC Alger moved to 14 points from six games to book their place in the last eight.
Stars went into the match with just two points from five matches, and found themselves on the receiving end of a home-town penalty decision when an Algerian player was fouled outside the box, but managed to stay on his feet before falling inside, with the match official awarding the spot-kick.
Defender Abderahmane Hachoud, who has amassed seven goals for the club in the Algerian Premier League this season, scored past Stars goalkeeper Cyril Chibwe in the 11th minute.
Striker Bongi Ntuli will be kicking himself all the way back to Rustenburg, having had the visitors’ best chance shortly before the halftime break when he beat two defenders, before shooting straight at the MC Alger goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi from just 10 metres out.
The attacking Ndumiso Mabena – who is on the brink of being out of contract with Stars and is rumoured to be on the wanted list by Kaizer Chiefs – also had a good chance to level the score in the first half, but like some of his colleagues, seemed goal-shy.
Whatever caretaker coach Willem Jackson said to his charges at the halftime break seemed to do the trick as they took the game to the hosts in the second half and seemed to find more space on the wings to thrust forward.
With Stars pressing hard for the equaliser, MC Alger’s Hichem Nekkache produced a world-class right-footed volley finish from 20 metres out just prior to the referee’s final whistle.
Stars will wrap up their African experience when they host Mbabane Swallows on July 8.
The men from Rustenburg will have learnt much from the campaign, despite having only collected two points from home drawn encounters from six matches.
African News Agency (ANA)