Cosmos oust Wits in Telkom KO

Diarra Gasossou © Backpagepix
Jomo Cosmos shrugged off the disappointment of their relegation from the Absa Premiership to beat Bidvest Wits 2-0 in a first round Telkom Knockout match at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Goals from Gerald Modabi and Ashley Smith handed Ezenkosi the surprise result that sees them join Golden Arrows, Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town, SuperSport United and AmaZulu in the quarterfinals of the competition.

Wits showed some early promise down the left flank where young talent Nyiko Tshabangu was providing some good service into the penalty area. In the fourth minute he provided a beautiful cross into the danger area that just needed a touch from either Sifiso Myeni or Sifiso Vilakazi to hand them an early lead.

Just past the ten minute mark the hosts had their first shot in anger at Abisai Shiningayamwe’s goal but Brazilian midfielder Fabricio Rodrigues ballooned his free kick over the crossbar.

The Clever Boys easily had most of the possession and looked pretty slick going forward until they reached the attacking third of the field when the final ball would inevitably undo all the good work that came before.

Cosmos, very much against the run of play, took the lead on 25 minutes. In virtually their first foray forward, some lovely interplay between Papi Mngomezulu and Katleho Loke set up Gerald Modabi for a shot on goal; the midfielder’s effort deflected off a Wits defender and beat Francis Chansa to his right.

Wits responded well to going behind, playing some decent football as they sought a quick reply to Ezenkosi’s opening goal. Captain Tefu Mashamaite sent a low drive skidding just wide of Shiningayamwe’s left hand post in the 35th minute.

However, the Students almost conceded a second goal on 38 minutes when Katleho Loke’s clever run saw him one-on-one with Chansa from a tight angle – the goalkeeper made a good block from close range to deny the visitors a two-goal lead.

Bidvest Wits came out firing at the start of the second half and really should have scored two goals within minutes of the restart.

Vilakazi showed good skill to control a square pass from Patrick Phungwayo in the box before turning and getting away a shot in one movement, but his volleyed effort was too high to trouble the Cosmos keeper.

Tshabangu then had a great close-range chance, albeit from a difficult angle, that was saved by Shiningayamwe and the left winger had the ball back at his feet just a second later but couldn’t find Vilakazi with a cross when the goal was virtually unguarded.

Clever Boys coach Roger de Sa took a calculated risk ten minutes into the second stanza by withdrawing his anchor midfielder, Sandile Sibande, and introducing the more attack-minded Thando Mngomeni.

Just before the hour mark Mark Haskins missed out on a glaring opportunity for the home side, somehow skewing the ball completely off target when meeting Tshabangu’s corner kick just a couple of metres from goal.

Wits continued to disappoint in front of goal but it was Cosmos who created the best scoring chances of the half as they took advantage of the hosts’ need to commit numbers forward in attack.

However, neither Loke nor Mngomezulu were able to take advantage of the two best chances that came the way of Ezenkosi, which left Jomo Sono’s team having to mount a concentrated rearguard action in the dying minutes as Wits pressed forward frantically.

Yet Ezenkosi stood firm in defence and sealed the win in injury time when Ashley Smith showed his pace on the counter attack and provided a superb low finish into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0.

Bidvest Wits 0
Jomo Cosmos (1) 2
(Modabi 25’, Smith 90+2’)

Wits: (4-5-1) Chansa; Mngomezulu, Mdluli, Mashamaite, Phungwayo; Myeni, Rodrigues, Sibande (Mngomeni 56’), Haskins (Hills 81’), Tshabangu (Bantam 73’); Vilakazi

Cosmos: (4-4-2) Shiningayamwe; Mhlathe (Shabalala 90’), Tshilo, Berthe, Diarra; Mngomezulu, Samb, Modabi (Oluwafemi 69’), Moloto; Smith, Loke.