ISHMAEL MOHLABE

The University of Pretoria suffered a defeat on penalties to Maritzburg United on Saturday 23 February at Tuks Stadium.

Maritzburg United outclassed the home side with a 4-2 triumph in a penalty shootout to advance to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup. The score was 0-0 after 120 minutes. Both teams missed plenty of chances to score, although AmaTuks striker Mame Niang did come close on several occasions. Maritzburg threatened from set pieces and long-range shots and AmaTuks’ goalkeeper Washington Arubi had to produce some brilliant saves to keep his team in the game.

With just ten minutes of the clock gone, Arubi was the first goalkeeper to be called into action. Mthokozisi Yende’s left-footed attempt from the edge of the penalty area saw Arubi reaching for a save. Six minutes later, Maritzburg continued to attack as Ryan de Jongh fired from 25 yards, forcing another save from Arubi.

Steve Barker was forced to make an early substitution after a hamstring injury to Lionel Mutizwa, who limped off in the 20th minute. Mutizwa was replaced by Ronald Ketjijere. Soon afterwards, AmaTuks were on the attack. Shuaibb Walters was put to the test when Niang’s firm header hit off the woodwork after Aubrey Ngoma crossed from the left flank in the 36th minute.

One minute later Maritzburg almost scored from a set piece. Dillon Sheppard fired a 25-yard free kick that bounced off the turf in the penalty area and hit Arubi’s chest. Rheece Evans reacted quickly to try to score off the rebound but his effort went over the crossbar.

The second half of the game saw the two teams struggling to find their first-half form. Niang threw away a clear-cut scoring opportunity in the 78th minute after he had connected with a low cross from Ngoma.

After two minutes of added time, another header from Niang just missed the goal. Niang, who had dominated almost every aerial ball, missed another opportunity in the 100th minute, this time set up by David Radebe who had replaced debutant Charly Moussono-Moussono.

Maritzburg nearly broke the deadlock as Delron Buckley steered an on-target volley to force Arubi into an acrobatic tip over the crossbar in the 117th minute.

With just two minutes of extra time left Niang almost stole the show as his header was denied by Walters near the far post following Thokozani Sekotlong’s cross.

When extra time ended goalless, the match had to be decided on penalties. AmaTuks won the toss and decided to kick first. Radebe took the first shot for AmaTuks and converted it. Niang and Sekotlong missed their kicks but Ngoma scored to make the score 2-3. After Ngoma had taken his shot, Cuthbert Malajila converted his penalty to put the game out of AmaTuks’ reach.

Photos: Brad Donald

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