Maritzburg were the dominant side in the first half as Chiefs struggled to penetrate the defence of the KZN team. But Chiefs succeeded from well-planned and neatly executed set-pieces in the second half.
DURBAN – Yagan Sasman scored two goals in quick succession as Kaizer Chiefs secured a come-from-behind 2-1 MTN8 quarter-final victory over Maritzburg United at the FNB Stadium on Sunday to start the “Gavin Hunt era” on a positive note.
Maritzburg were the dominant side in the first half as Chiefs struggled to penetrate the defence of the KZN team. But Chiefs will be encouraged by the fact that their play in the second half reflected that of what new boss Hunt is known for.
They succeeded from well-planned and neatly executed set-pieces.
Back in an attacking role, 34-year-old Bernard Parker also proved a live-wire in attack for Amakhosi. The veteran struck the post immediately after the break and nearly found the net again in the 50th minute following good combination play with Leanardo Castro.
Hunt said that the FNB pitch was difficult to play on, but he also admitted that his side was outplayed in the first half.
“We were pulled apart in the first half. I thought Parker was fantastic today. I’m trying to get the mentality right. Nobody plays well in the first game. Hopefully, this will give us momentum going forward,” said Hunt.
“Castro was rusty but allowed (Khama) Billiat to move around. We need another way of doing things but that will take time,” he added.
Maritzburg coach Eric Tinkler said that his team could have won the game in the first half after a spell of early domination but conceded that his side must accept responsibility for their loss.
“We should have ended the game in the first half. We did not and were punished for it. We looked completely lost in the second half. Castro came in and made a difference. We did not press them as well as we did in the first half. Everyone must take responsibility,” said Tinkler, who emphasised that his side would have to question their approach and mentality.
After a quiet opening 30 minutes of the game which saw the injury-prone Keagan Buchanan fall to the ground thrice, Thabiso Kutumela opened the scoring in the 35th minute for Maritzburg. Buchanan took advantage of a wayward pass from Kearyn Baccus.
It was a good individual effort from Kutumela who opted against passing to attacking partner Judas Moseamedi and found the bottom right corner of the net, beating Chiefs keeper Itu Khune.
Maritzburg could have doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. A square ball from Moseamedi led to Bongokuhle Hlongwane striking the underside of the crossbar which had Khune looking uncertain.
Chiefs appeared to have received a stern team-talk from Hunt at half-time. The introduction of Njabulo Blom and Castro in the second half injected new dimensions into the Chiefs attack in the second half.
Sasman equalised for Chiefs in the 72nd minute following a pin-point corner from Billiat. And it was Sasman again who would meet another Billiat corner two minutes later to score an identical goal and his second of the game which put Chiefs ahead.
Chiefs were unlucky to have not been awarded their third goal in the 80th minute. Castro had Maritzburg keeper Bongani Mpandle beaten and was wrongly judged to have been offside. But the Soweto wizards will nevertheless be very happy to be in the semi-finals.