By: CHRIS TOTOBELA
A huge crowd packed into JD Dlepu on Sunday 8 April to witness two crucial SAB regional league encounters. In the first game, Sakhulutsha took on the Port Alfred team, Young Pirates, before Maru took on Manchester, from Alexandria.
Sakhulutsha threw away a 2-0 lead to to go down by 2-3 against Young Pirates. Sakhulutsha even missed a crucial penalty, after their captain shot wide at goal. Despite the loss, the side will look to regroup and build on the positives that the early lead gave them.
In the main game of the day Maru took on Manchester in a very tough game. The game started at a very high pace, with both teams pushing forward searching for an opener. The visitors took control of the midfield in the opening 15 minutes of the game, but had nothing to show for it. Maru came back strongly and created chances of their own but failed to make them count, leaving the halftime score 0-0.
The game got even tighter in the second half as both sets of fans were made their presence felt. What made matters worse for the home side was that one of their defenders received a second caution which resulted in him being sent off. Despite being a man down, Maru still pushed their opponents back and forced them to defend. Unfortunately, the home side was caught with a very quick counter attack and a lack of communication between the defender and his goalkeeper gifted Zolani Sonandze a free pass to score on an open net. Maru fought back hard, but Manchester’s defence stood firm and managed to hold on to their 1-0 lead until the final whistle.
Manchester coach, Bongani Babana, was happy with his team’s performance. “It was a tough game but we got what we came here for, as you have seen we never sat back, we attacked them for the whole game. I think we still stand a chance of winning the league but we will take it one game at a time,” said Babana.
Maru’s caretaker coach, Tanduxolo Matebese, was not a happy man. “It is unacceptable to conceed such goals at this level, especially when the league is at this crucial stage. Maru is a very big team and to lose two games in a row is not good for the team of its calibre. Player’s ill discipline is another downfall,” added Matebese. “We just have to win the remaining games and finish in a respectable position, but nevertheless take nothing away from our opponents, they were good on the day,” said Matebese.