JOHANNESBURG – Free State Stars kicked off their maiden Caf Confederation Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw against Rwanda club Mukura Victory Sports at Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Stars, who qualified for the continental competition after winning the Nedbank Cup last season, hosted the game at Wits’ ground rather than their usual Goble Park.
This was in order to save on costs as Caf do not allow visiting clubs to travel more than 200 kilometres by road, which would have meant Stars having to pay for the Mukura contingent to fly out to Bethlehem.
The first half of this preliminary round proved a tight affair, with neither side able to create much in the way of scoring opportunities, although with that said, both teams each had one decent chance to take the lead.
The match did get off to a lively start, with the visitors having the first opening in the 15th minute.
But after Onesme Twizeriman did well to take the ball around Stars keeper Badra Sangare, he fired his parting shot into the side-netting.
As the heat in Johannesburg began to take its toll, the pace slowed.
The next goal-mouth action came six minutes before the interval, when Mukura defender Iddy Saidi cleared the ball off his own line after goalkeeper Umar Rwabugiri’s initial clearance had struck one of his own players and deflected back towards his net.
The second stanza also brought little in the way of goal threats as both sides continued to struggle for fluency upfront.
It was Stars who showed more urgency in the second period, and they did at least have a couple of efforts on goal, but Yusuf Jappie, Sinethemba Jantjie and Harris Tchilimbou were unable to find the target.
The Rwandans, meanwhile, seemed content to play out for the draw ahead of the second leg encounter at their home base in Huye, scheduled for next Wednesday, December 5.
African News Agency (ANA)