Stars were unlucky: Komphela

Steve Komphela (Gallo)
Steve Komphela (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Platinum Stars were the victims of bad luck on Saturday, according to Maritzburg United coach Steve Komphela, after his team sent Dikwena crashing out the Nedbank Cup in a penalty shootout at Moruleng Stadium.

With the sides locked at 1-1 in the second half of regulation time, Siphelele Mthembu fluffed three chances to bury the visitors.

Mthembu rounded Maritzburg keeper Virgil Vries twice in the space of a minute, but he hit the side netting from an angle with the first attempt and slammed the second against the upright.

With Vries kept on his toes by an aggressive Stars attack, he again found himself in a one-on-one situation with Mthembu in the 75th minute, but this time he got his body in the way.

The scores remained level after extra time, and Vries saved two spot kicks as his side snatched a 3-1 win in the penalty shootout.

"I must compliment Platinum Stars. They gave it their all," Komphela said.

"I think Siphelele Mthembu was just unlucky on the day. He tried everything -- shots, rounding of the keeper and all that -- but it wasn't to be."

Komphela was delighted with his team's performance, as they held their composure during a second-half onslaught from the Stars attack.

He believed his "solar powered" side had handled the warm conditions better than their hosts.

"We kept good possession and we had a good feel and understanding of the state of the game, when to immediately attack, when to slow things down.

"When we went to penalties I said maybe this day was meant for us, and so it was."

Vries, the Man of the Match, was relieved to have grabbed his chance with both hands in an ongoing battle with Shuaib Walters for the first-choice shot stopper's berth at the Team of Choice.

"This was a very important game for me and I had to take the opportunity the coach gave me," said the Namibian international.

"I had to repay him for having that belief in me."

Meanwhile, Stars coach Allan Freese was gutted with the last 16 defeat, with his team failing to reach the quarterfinals after winning the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout cup tournaments earlier this season.

"You cannot go around the goalkeeper three times and not be able to put the ball in the net," Freese said.

"I don't know if they call that bad luck, or unlucky, or what it is.

"Maritzburg were dead on their feet but we didn't keep the ball, we didn't play.

"So I take my hat off to Maritzburg. They stayed there and stayed there. We tried to get into the game, we just couldn't."

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