Da Gama defends Rae after extra-time error

Owen da Gama (Gallo Images)
Owen da Gama (Gallo Images)

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama has defended defender Ryan Rae following his error which led to Mamelodi Sundowns' winner in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

With the scored locked at 0-0 heading in to the final five minutes of second-half extra time, midfielder Sello Motsepe lost the ball in midfield allowing Hlompho Kekana to play the ball forward.

It looked like a rudimentary clearance for the experienced Rae, who had come on as a substitute for injured captain Bevan Fransman, but he kicked thin air as Sundowns winger Keletso Makgalwa was able to cut inside and fire the ball in to the far corner past Highland goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini.

But instead of taking aim at his utility back, Da Gama said he was feeling sorry for Rae as well as Motsepe, who both made mistakes in the leadup to the goal.

"Ryan is really hurting. It was an unfortunate situation, I feel for him," Da Gama told SowetanLive.

"We are with him, we feel it with Sello Motsepe, who lost the ball in the midfield.

"I don't think there is any player who goes onto the field to make a mistake. We will regroup, we will work hard and we will learn from that."

Da Gama said he felt his side actually had the Brazilians on the back foot for large periods of the game and were unlucky to come away with nothing in the end.

"I thought the boys were fantastic. From a tactical perspective, to see a team like Sundowns park the bus was a bit strange to see," he said.

"For us to put a performance like this, it was very good for the boys and I'm really proud of them."

- TEAMtalk media

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