Hungry for first trophy

2019-11-27 06:01
Judas Moseamedi was the hero for Maritzburg United on Sunday by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout in Nelspruit. photo: gallo images

Judas Moseamedi was the hero for Maritzburg United on Sunday by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout in Nelspruit. photo: gallo images

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MARITZBURG United’s sheer hunger to succeed, not least from hulking striker Judas Moseamedi, shattered the possibility of there being a glamour Telkom Knockout final between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns this year.

The mighty ’Downs team did their part by comfortably getting past Golden Arrows in Durban on Saturday, but Eric Tinkler’s gutsy warriors from the Midlands had other ideas and came up with the right attitude and tactics to pull off a fabulous 2-1 win over Chiefs in the second semi-final in Nelspruit yesterday.

When the final takes place at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on December 14, the “Team of Choice” will be bidding to clinch their first trophy in roughly 15 years of professional football.

“We have been working hard and we did the job today,” said proud man-of-the-match Moseamedi, who scored a goal in each half to cancel out the single from Chiefs’ Yagan Sasman midway through the second half at a packed Mbombela Stadium.

Added the equally-delighted Tinkler: “It would have been an injustice if we did not win the game. “I thought in the first half we performed exceptionally well. We should have been 3-0 up by half-time. We kept the door open to them and they got an equaliser, but overall we dominated the game. We looked like we were the team who were playing at home today. “We could really have slaughtered them with all the chances we had in the game, but overall I am happy.

“We applied ourselves exceptionally well. We need to do the same against Sundowns in the final.” Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp said his team had simply failed to rise to the occasion.

Tinkler’s tactical plan was bound to be very important against more illustrious opponents, who were enjoying home advantage too, and the former Bafana Bafana star opted for a fairly conservative approach that was underlined by the rare deployment of Moseamedi as the team’s lone striker. There was also the sudden scrapping of the Midlands club’s fledgling policy of using reserve goalkeeper Bongani Mpandle for Cup contests. In came first-choice “stopper” Richard Ofori and, in addition to that, there was the unusual placing of Keagan Buchanan and Micah Lea’Alafa in the engine-room for the big game.

The obvious task for beefy Moseamedi was to give Chiefs’ changed central defence a torrid time in the box, while United’s regular strike combination of Thabiso Khutumela and Jeremy Brockie had to watch from the bench from the first whistle. In a game that involved plenty of long balls on both sides of the pitch, Tinkler’s plan looked spot-on in the 30th minute when an opportunistic Moseamedi took full advantage of Chiefs central defender Daniel Cardoso’s poor back pass and put United in front against expectation. There was little chance of Amakhosi goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma making up for Cardoso’s untimely blunder as Moseamedi’s move was unstoppable.

The mighty Chiefs following could not believe their eyes again as the United striker almost made it 2-0 minutes later, as did midfielder Mxolisi Kunene just before the interval. At the other end, there was some hope for the home fans when United ’keeper Ofori and defender Rushine de Reuck were called on a few occasions to stop the Chiefs attackers in their tracks, including a dangerous foray involving Leonardo Castro five minutes from half-time.

The fightback expected from Chiefs in the second half did not yield immediate rewards and, as time went on, the tens of thousands of Amakhosi fans were clearly getting worried and they must have been very relieved when United midfielder Daylon Claasen and Moseamedi fluffed chances before the 70th minute. Chiefs thought they were right back in it when Sasman scored the equaliser in the 78th minute, but Moseamedi had the final say by converting a pass from substitute Bandile Shandu in the 85th minute.

The upset was complete.

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