Coming off the back of a 2-0 midweek defeat to SuperSport United, the Team of Choice put in a spirited performance in what was a high intensity derby against Usuthu in testing conditions at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
Coach Eric felt Maritzburg had a few moments to possibly win the game, but was nevertheless satisfied with the commitment his men exhibited.
“I don’t think we played badly in the first half, I don’t think Richard (Ofori) had to make many saves. I actually thought the first opportunity came to us, I need to check it again, but possibly a penalty on the young boy [Bongokuhle] Hlongwane.
“But the pitch didn’t make for a pretty game, both teams were looking to play on the transitions, hitting the long ball, getting the ball into the box, and you’re hoping to pick up the second ball and try and score from there,” the Team of Choice tactician explained.
“I thought defensively, we were well structured, well organised, everybody worked extremely hard defensively. Offensively I thought we created more than them. I thought we had the better chances, especially late in the second half and I thought possibly we could have sneaked the three points.”
Up front, it just wouldn’t quite fall for the PMB team. At the back, they put in an outstanding performance to make it six clean sheets from 13 Absa Premiership matches this term.
“Tough though, the pitch didn’t help and you’re not going to get good football on a pitch like this unfortunately,” the coach said.
“There were some situations for Kutu [Thabiso Kutumela], a better bounce or a better pitch and we could have scored.
“Similar with [Mxolisi] Kunene, the first touch - he’s got to bring it down on his chest and has to try a bicycle kick. Those small things went against us, but I thought we created the better chances.
“The work-rate was very, very good. And it needed to be. [AmaZulu forward, Bongolwethu] Ntuli is a bustling striker, he’s aggressive, hard-working, and our defence had to work extremely hard.
“[Ovidy] Karuru also, playing almost as a second striker. [Jabulani] Ncobeni, playing as a number 10, they were always three up there and we had to be very careful particularly on the transitional phase. But we did that extremely well.”
In central defence, Rushine De Reuck added to his growing reputation with another Man-of-the-Match performance.
“KZN derby, it wasn’t easy, we tried our best but we weren’t good enough to take the three points,” De Reuck said after the match.
“But we keep on pushing as a team, we keep on believing in each other and hopefully we will pick up the three points next week (away at Polokwane City on Sunday).
“It was a very hard game and we didn’t create clearcut chances like we usually do, AmaZulu was good defensively, difficult to break down, but we’ll keep on pushing.”