We have secured 3 points in our opening game of the season against Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium this afternoon, breaking a drought of wins in the province capital since 2010.
A brilliant team effort from Gumede at the back, all the way to Lamola and Mutizwa up front, saw us taking advantage of two well fought opportunities and capitalising on them.
Maritzburg United had a slight upper hand in the first half as far as possession went, but they were just not able to put together a strong enough attack to put us on the back foot and find the back of the net.
We used our ball well, setting up good movements and looking to break into the firing zone, but the first 45 was not kind to us. Our only promise was off a free kick. Danny Venter struck the ball well, putting it in a great position in the box, however Phiri’s resulting header went over the bar.
The teams headed into the break with no score on the board. This in itself set the anticipation of an explosive second half.
Coming back onto the field, Maritzburg were quick on the attack and we allowed them to have a chance at scoring. Mokate had a header, but a quick thinking Gumede fell back quickly and flat handed the ball out of the goal area.
Minutes later, Ndlovu failed to capitalise for the home team again denied by Gumede. We changed gear from here, and took the game to them, confident that our fitness levels would carry us through the game.
Our determination paid off in the 71st minute when Mutizwa played an amazing reverse shot after chesting the ball off a cross from the far side. He caught Ofiri completely off guard and gave us the lead.
An end to end battle then took place. Maritzburg came back at us and tried hard to equalise. Again, the team effort was commendable, and the defence from the attacking players played a big factor in helping deny Maritzburg.
We kept our composure, and with 10 minutes left in the game, we increased the tempo, looking for the goal to secure the game. It was only in extra time that the determination payed off, with Lamola finding himself one-on-one with Ofiri, he managed to get a boot on the ball as he was being closed down, finding the back of the net and ensuring the win.
This is a positive start to the season, and once again, congratulations must go to the whole team for a well played effort from everyone.
A special thanks to you, the 12th men supporters who always stand by us and encourage the players to give their all on the field.
We will prepare now for a busy week as we host Bloemfontein Celtic at home on Wednesday night, and then look at the MTN fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns next weekend.