The Team of Choice twice conceded sloppy goals in the first half but on both occasions they showed great fight to level the game, with Thabiso Kutumela’s brace ensuring a 2-2 scoreline at the regulation time interval.
That was how the score remained right up until the end of the 120 minutes after United failed to create many clear scoring chances against the home side.
It wasn’t Maritzburg’s best performance, but ultimately it was all about getting through to the next round against a tough opponent.
“Obviously happy to get through,” head coach Eric Tinkler said, “but it could have gone either way to be brutally honest. We didn’t start very well, we took risks in our build up and conceded the first.
“The boys responded well, we came back and got the equaliser. But first half we were not very well structured, not very well organised and we ended up conceding the second from a long throw.
“Our second goal was what we do on the training ground – the combination play, the penetration was excellent. We started to improve in that area and we created one or two situations but like I said, this game could have gone either way.
“I thought defensively we were a lot better in the second half and we needed to be, because a lot of the set pieces were hurting us and we could possibly have conceded from that. But I thought we defended a lot better in the second half. Our offensive play on the transitions was not as effective as we are at home.”
The Team of Choice have enjoyed quite a bit of success in penalty shoot-outs of late, not only in the Nedbank Cup but also in the Telkom Knockout. But although spot kicks are worked on at training, coach Eric explains how one is never able to quite replicate the same kind of pressure scenario out on the training pitch.
“People talk about practising penalties, and you do, but the harsh reality is you never create the same situation to what the pressure the players find (in a match).
“Everybody at training is keen to take the penalties. When I’m going there (during a match) with my list, who’s number one, nobody is holding up their hand, that’s just the harsh reality, the pressure that the players feel.”
For now it’s back to league duties as Maritzburg get set for a double away header next week in Johannesburg – against Bidvest Wits on Wednesday and Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.
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