The Team of Choice’s game-plan in Nelspruit was spot on, although the match ended up being a very tense affair after United had passed up on numerous opportunities to add further goals to Judas Moseamedi’s 30th minute opener.
Indeed, after Amakhosi equalised in the 70th minute, it looked as if the missed chances may come back to haunt the KZN Capital City side, before Moseamedi thumped in an 85th minute volley to seal a famous victory.
“Obviously I’m very happy for the team and for the club,” coach Eric said after the dust had settled in Mbombela, “this is only the second time in their history that they’ve reached a final and hopefully we can end it off with lifting that trophy.
“I think the performance was absolutely fantastic and I think it would have been a gross injustice if we didn’t win,” he continued.
“If I look at the first half, five, six clearcut chances. At least three of them we should have scored, we should have come in at half time comfortably in the lead.
“Our transitions were very good, defensively they didn’t cause us any real issues. We created the opportunities - first half fantastic performance,but we let them off the hook – we left the door wide open and I warned the players at half time that you can’t do that – it’s very important to kill off the game.
“So even though we were 1-0 up, I was extremely upset because I felt there was a fantastic opportunity to really bury them.
“We started the second half very well again, another two, three, four clearcut chances and we don’t score. Then we get punished by a set piece and they (Chiefs) come back into the game.
“But credit to the boys, they kept going, kept working and we got the winner. Then at the end we had to hold on a bit with the long balls coming in, but we dealt with them.
“We could have walked away more comfortable winners. But that said I’m obviously very proud of the players, the work ethic they showed, but now we’ve got another massive game on Wednesday against SuperSport.”
The Maritzburg tactician also praised his defenders, who ensured that the dangerous Chiefs attack was largely nullified.
“We knew they would be going to be coming with [Leonardo] Castro and [Samir] Nurkovic, they’re a team that likes to play off the second ball. We dealt with that well with Pogiso [Sanoka), and then looking for the cover, I thought Rushine [de Reuck] and Nazeer Allie, defensively were superb.
“Especially Rushine in that first half because there was a lot of those balls coming in and he was dealing with the first header, winning the second tackle. So we dealt with that pressure very well.
“But then on the transition there was so much space to exploit, but that’s why I was a little upset, we didn’t exploit that space enough.”
At the other end of the park meanwhile, two-goal hero Moseamedi was providing all kinds of headaches for the Amakhosi rearguard.
“Judah was absolutely fantastic. On the break, his pace, we knew it was a new central defensive pairing (for Chiefs), we needed to exploit that, and it worked for us,” coach Eric added.
Moseamedi meanwhile credited his coach for ensuring that Maritzburg knew exactly what they had to do to win on Sunday.
“We planned very well for Chiefs,” the big striker said, “we knew how they would attack, and we knew they would utilise their tall strikers up front. But we kept to our shape and our plan and that’s how we ended up victorious.
“We knew it would be tough, but our coach told us not to put ourselves under pressure, to keep doing the basics, and then we’ll get it right.”
The TKO final against Mamelodi Sundowns takes place in three weeks’ time in Durban.
But before that, the Team of Choice have some crucial Absa Premiership games, starting with Wednesday’s clash with SuperSport United at the Harry Gwala Stadium.