“Striker wasn’t fit, so started on the bench”, the United coach explains after final defeat"
SUPERSPORT United coach, Kaitano Tembo, defended his decision to leave Bradley Grobler on the bench as his side succumbed to a 4-1 penalty shoot-out defeat against Cape Town City in the MTN8 final on Saturday.
Everyone was left surprised when Grobler started on the bench in a match where SuperSport were outplayed from the first whistle.
Tembo opted to utilise James Keene as the focal point up front for Matsatsantsa A Pitori.
Grobler was a pillar of strength for Matsatsantsa in the MTN8 up to that point. He propelled United into the final with his three strikes against Kaizer Chiefs in a two-legged semi-final.
Asked about his decision to introduce Grobler only three minutes before the final whistle in extra-time, Tembo replied: “He only trained two days. He missed the whole of last week through injuries. We had to give him a little bit of the minutes. We were taking a risk on him. We don’t want to lose him early in the season. He is not properly healed. If he was fit, we were going to play him. We thought that maybe in the dying minutes we might create a chance or two. We didn’t want to risk him.”
Grobler replaced Keene at the death and then missed a penalty in the shoot-out.
“It is disappointing to get into the final and not win it. Cape Town City deserves it. They had better opportunities. We fought hard to take it to extra-time. Cape Town City kept possession very well although it wasn’t quality possession.
“It was a tight game for both teams. Credit to Cape Town City,” he added.
SuperSport defeated Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on their way to the final.
“Our most influential players just didn’t click. Evans Rusike got a knock. I think we should have taken him off earlier. Fagrie Lakay also got injured early in the match. We lacked a little bit of speed. That’s the main reason why we couldn’t click. We never dominated possession in the midfield,” Tembo concluded.