“A FANTASTIC WIN”
13 February 2020
Head coach Eric Tinkler praised his team’s application after their hard-fought 1-0 Absa Premiership win over Bidvest Wits on Wednesday night.
The Team of Choice ended a five-year wait to win away against the Clever Boys, thanks to Thabiso Kutumela’s 44th minute strike at the Bidvest Stadium.
“I thought it was a fantastic win and I thought our first half performance was exceptional,” coach Eric commented after the game.
“I thought we really controlled the match in the first half. We looked to frustrate them in terms of how we pressed.
“I thought our pressure against them through the middle was exceptional. They (Wits) were without solutions, looking to play long, balls were running out for throw-ins or goal kicks. And when we won the ball we looked very good going forward.
“Our combination play was good, getting the balls in behind, putting the balls in the box. I think we came in at 1-0 at half time deservedly so.”
The Students upped the ante in the second stanza, but some superb defending, and hard work and concentration all round, ensured victory for the KwaZulu-Natal Capital City club.
“I warned the players at half time, they’re going to come at you a lot more now, there’s going to be a lot of long balls and it’s very important that we deal with it, not only the first challenge, but the second and the third,” the Maritzburg tactician explained.
“And I thought the defensive display from the boys in the second half was exceptional, we had to absorb a lot of pressure, but that was expected. Just a bit more quality from us on the counter and we could have got a second and even possibly a third.”
Having reached 30 points, United can now set their targets on finishing as high as possible this season, with a top eight finish very much a possibility – they currently lie sixth.
”I’m very proud of the boys – not an easy place to come,” said coach Eric. “I think it’s the first time in the last five outings here (that Maritzburg beat Wits in Johannesburg). Very happy with the three points, we wanted to hit that 30-point mark as soon as possible. Now we want to try and climb that table as high as we can.”
Coach Eric also had some special words of praise for the match winner on the night, Kutumela, who has scored a number of vital goals this season: five in the league and three in the cup, from only 14 starts.
“Kutu has been absolutely fantastic this season. And yet I used to start him on the bench.
“And that’s a positive, he’s become more of a team player, and because of that its made him a better player and I’m happy for him because he’s put in a lot of hard work.
“And he continues to support the team even when he’s not in the starting line-up. He understands the reasons behind it and its been about him looking after himself and having a positive attitude. For that he then reaps these types of rewards.”
Maritzburg are next in action on Saturday evening, when they tackle log leaders Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium.