Stellenbosch FC claim Carling Knockout Cup after penalty drama

In a pulsating encounter at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Stellenbosch FC emerged as the inaugural Carling Knockout Cup champions, prevailing over TS Galaxy in a penalty shoot-out.

The match had fans on the edge of their seats as it ended 1-1 after extra time on Saturday afternoon. Stellenbosch went on to win the penalty shootout 5-4.

Stellenbosch, eager to secure the title, made strategic changes to their line-up, bringing in goalkeeper Sage Stephens, along with Jayden Adams and Olivier Toure. On the opposite side, TS Galaxy introduced Fiacre Ntwari and Kamogelo Sebelebele after a recent defeat to Orlando Pirates.

The initial exchanges saw both teams cautiously sizing each other up, opting for long-range strikes. However, it was Stellies who demonstrated determination, with Iqraam Rayners’ one-on-one opportunity saved by Ntwari in the 18th minute.

Despite Galaxy’s attempts to absorb pressure and look for counterattacks, Lehlohonolo Mojela broke the deadlock just before half-time with a deflected shot that found the top corner.

Coach Sead Ramovic made a tactical substitution at half-time, introducing Samir Nurkovic. Nurkovic nearly doubled Galaxy’s lead with a curling shot that narrowly missed the crossbar.

Stellenbosch displayed spirit in the second half, with Olivier Toure levelling the score at 1-1 on the 73rd minute with a superb long-range left-footed shot.

The game intensified in the dying minutes, with Sphiwe Mahlangu’s chance for Galaxy heroically denied by Stephens. A late penalty shout for the Rockets was waved off, and the teams went into extra time.

As the game hung in the balance, Stellenbosch introduced fresh legs, bringing on Kgaogelo Sekgota and Mervin Boji. Galaxy pressed for a winner, but Mojela’s deflected strike went wide.

Stellenbosch finished the game with ten men after Fawaaz Basadien’s red card for dissent, setting the stage for a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Stellies clinched victory with a 5-4 win, sealing their status as Carling Knockout Cup champions.

This thrilling encounter also marked Galaxy’s ninth consecutive failure to beat Stellenbosch, solidifying the latter’s dominance in their head-to-head meetings.