Krol happy with his draw with ‘Downs

2008-11-27 00:00

It was a moral and tactical victory for Orlando Pirates coach Ruud Krol when his injury-hit side held big-spending Sundowns to a hard fought 0-0 PSL draw at a packed Super Stadium on Wednesday night.

For once, the former Dutch captain was smiling after the match and said: “It was a tight game between two good sides. I am more than happy to come away from here with a point.

“It was an important point that we earned considering we had a number of key players injured and I had to make a couple of changes from the team that beat Thanda Royal Zulu 4-2 in Soweto [last Saturday].”

Krol was without left back Innocent Mdledle, midfielder Dikgang Mabalane and suspended right-back Rooi Mahamutsa. And, to add to his worries ahead of tomorrow’s Telkom Knockout semi-final showdown against Bloemfontein Celtic at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium (8.15pm), was the injury to another key midfielder Thulasizwe Mbuyane, who hobbled off early on.

The former Holland star assessed the injuries yesterday after training.

Said Krol: “I am not even thinking about the cup semi-final”.

“All my focus and that of the players was on getting a result at Sundowns and we succeeded. I am well pleased with the way the players dug in and fought hard and showed great character. It was a hard, well-earned draw.”

Sundowns new coach Henry Michel is finding life in the Premier Soccer League tougher than he possibly expected.

But he said: “I was happy with our performance. We also have a lot of players missing through injury. But I was disappointed at the result. I thought we should have won the game.”

He said he was concerned by the way his strikers missed chances and was looking forward to the return, from a long-term injury, of veteran Bafana Bafana striker Sibusiso Zuma.

Zuma, the most expensive player in the PSL, who is reputed to earn R200 000 per month, is expected to be back in action within a week after missing most of the season with injury after joining Downs from Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld in the off-season.

Said the former Tunisia and Ivory Coast national coach: “I know of Zuma’s quality. I am looking forward to having him back in the squad.”

But, on the night, Michel said Sundowns were never in any danger of losing.

“Had we taken out chances, we would have got the three points I thought we deserved,” the newly appointed Downs coach said.

He has collected only five points from his three games in charge and admits that it is not good enough. But he said: “I accept that five points from three games is not enough. But we are making progress and we will win a lot more games this season. I am confident this team will go from strength to strength.

“This was a tough game, but showed me we are on the right track and once all our injured players are back fit, then I am confident we will start getting more and more success.”

But the match was soured for Downs when their full back Siboniso Gaxa was sent off by referee Peter Mabuza in the 90th minute for a second bookable offence. Gaxa and man of the match Robyn Johannes had both been outstanding for the home side.

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