Orlando Pirates coach Ruud Krol said he was lucky and is not getting carried away after his charges staged one of the great escapes of the season when they defeated a gutsy BidVest Wits 3-2 at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Krol deserves credit for three brave second-half substitutions that won the match.
The way in which Bucs refused to give up after trailing 2-0 underlined their championship material.
The Students’ coach Roger de Sa admitted his side were not “street smart” enough after super-sub Katlego Mashego’s late injury-time goal sunk his struggling not-so Clever Boys.
Krol praised his side’s fighting spirit after coming back from 2-0 at halftime to notch what looked like an unlikely win.
“We got lucky against Wits. Any side needs a little luck, which ran our way. But the players deserve a pat on the back for the way they fought well and never gave up.” said Krol.
‘There is still a long way to go and we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground.” explained Krol.
Krol can take a bow after bringing on wingers Mark Mayambela and Tlou Segolela at halftime for injured Daine Klate and out-of-sorts Patrick Malokase. His master stroke was throwing in striker Mashego in at the death.
Mayambela was a revelation, setting up both goals for Isaac Chansa in the 69th and 72nd minutes that cancelled out the first-half goals by Stanton Fredericks and Sifiso Vilakazi.
Krol gave his technical staff the credit for bringing on Mashego.
‘The technical team decided to gamble and throw on Mashego for the last 15 minutes or so and it worked.”
Krol said the turning point in the match was when Mayambela and Oupa Manyisa hit the woodwork in quick succession in the 61st minute.
‘We knew then we could get back into the game. Hitting the post gave us that self belief. ”
The former Dutch star is now focusing on what he said will be difficult away trip to Botshabelo Stadium on Saturday where they face Free State Stars.
De Sa refused to blame his players for letting the match slip away.
“We are not street wise enough. We lack experience in this type of situation when we were leading 2-0 we could not hold on. We made three basic mistakes and were punished.” said De Sa.
De Sa said it could have been different had Vilakazi’s shot not hit the post in the 33rd minute.
“Had we made it 3-0 then it would have been game over.” – Sapa