Freese: We refused to panic

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Lefty Shivambu

Platinum Stars captain Vuyo Mere lifts the trophy after winning the Telkom Knockout final against Orlando Pirates. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Despite conceding a first half goal that could have been their downfall, Platinum Stars coach Allan Freese says the team refused to panic, which sealed their Telkom Knockout title against a highly-fancied Orlando Pirates outfit.

Mogakolodi Ngele netted a brace after coming on as a substitute in the 66th minute, to cancel out Lucky Lekgwathi's first half opener and handed Stars their second successive cup title.

“There was no panic. Okay, the game was getting away, so we put Ngele in and it worked out,” Freese said after the game at Mbombela Stadium.

Saturday's fixture was the second successive cup final between these two teams, who battled it out in late September for the MTN8 trophy.

Dikwena came out on top on that occasion, with the match ending 1-1 following extra-time, before Stars had the better of Pirates on penalties, winning the shootout 3-1.

“We went in at half-time and spoke about the mistakes that we had made, which were not many,” Freese added.

“We said, ‘let’s get the ball back to Enrico, let him hold it up and let’s support him’.

“We had time, we didn’t rush. Enrico was unbelievable upfront, holding the ball, getting everybody to play, it was good to see.”

Freese said he was delighted on a personal note, after lifting a second cup, but also congratulated his team on a superb effort.

“I’m very happy for Allan, for the players, for the support staff that we have and for everyone that is involved in the club and the Bafokeng nation that supports the team.

“We work hard, we do the right things and well done to the boys.

“Unlucky to Roger and Pirates… I think it was a beautiful goal from Ngele, the second one.”

Still regarded only as the club’s caretaker coach, Freese admitted he would not hesitate to say yes, should he be offered the official head coach’s role.

“It’s a job that I will not refuse, especially with the bunch of players that we have.”

Meanwhile, a clearly disappointed Pirates coach Roger De Sa said the team would have to keep working at finishing off their chances, believing that a lack of urgency may have cost the Soweto club the victory.

“Obviously it’s a sad moment for us,” De Sa said.

“We tried, we got the goal, we had a couple of missed chances.

“We had a couple of near opportunities, we should have maybe sealed the game off.

“Reaching a final is difficult and we just have to finish it off, it’s just one of those things that happen in football, we have to keep on going.” – Sapa

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