Johannesburg – Valiant minnows African Warriors took their Nedbank quarterfinal into extra-time before going down 3-1 to Maritzburg United at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The resolute Free State side from the lower First Division League were unlucky to not have pulled off a major upset in the scheduled 90 minutes, which ended with the teams level at a goal apiece after both sides scored in the second half.
Warriors should have been awarded a penalty midway through the opening period when United goalkeeper Virgil Vries appeared guilty of a mis-timed infringement, but the referee decided to take no action.
The NFD team also had twice as many scoring opportunities as their Premier League opponents in the first 90 minutes before United's 81st minute striker substitute, Terrence Mandaza, emerged Maritzburg's hero with two goals within a matter of two minutes in extra-time.
Warriors had United at sixes and sevens in the opening period and had no fewer than 12 shots at goal, but over-eager, off-target finishing was their downfall.
Maritzburg opened the score in the 51st minute through a well-timed header from Mario Booysen, following a well-placed corner from Bongolethu Jayiya.
But even this setback did not lessen Warriors' resolve and they were back on level terms in the 72nd minute. An opportunist Thapelo Selepe pounced on a looping cross from Kamohelo Mabuya and lobbed the ball into the net past a bemused United defence.
Vusumuzi Magagula in Warriors goal brought off smart saves from long-range effort by Kurt Lentjies and Ashley Hartog in the 67th and 72nd minute.
But the relative lack of experience and playing at a higher level only began to tell on the First Division side, after the game went into extra-time.
Magagula was again seen in impressive light when stopping another 30-metre piledriver from Hartog in the 102nd minute.
But with United taking an ascendancy in extra-time, Mandaza burst through the Warriors defence to make the score 2-1 in the 105th minute.
Then, a mere two minutes later, he was on hand to complete a brace with an opportunist close-range effort that caught Warriors' defence on the wrong foot. – Sapa