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IT SEEMS Black Leopards' players have not yet recovered from the shock of failing to gain promotion to the Premiership, coach Vladislav Heric feels.
This would explain their bellow-par performance against M Tigers in the Nedbank Cup round of 32 on Saturday, when they laboured to a 2-1 win. Speaking at Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa after the match, Heric said the morale in their camp was at an all-time low.
"As I'm talking to you one of our players, Patrick Mtawali, is at a hospital in Elim. We are all praying for him to get well and rejoin us in the team," Heric said. Mtawali is son of the Malawian soccer great Ernest Mtawali.
The Limpopo outfit missed promotion by a whisker after losing to Mpumalanga Black Aces on penalties during the First Division play-offs in Witbank two weeks ago. Mtawali was the only Leopards player who failed to convert his penalty against Aces.
M Tigers, coached by former professional soccer players Louis Mabotja and Jerry Sikhosana, have only themselves to blame for the Nedbank Cup defeat. The Tembisa side dominated the first half but failed dismally in front of goals.
"It is true that most of our players are still inexperienced, but we gave a good account of ourselves," said Mabotja, a former Tembisa Classic player.
Tigers drew first blood through Tumelo Mofokeng in the 40th minute. Khethokwakhe Masuku levelled matters in the 62nd minute and Tigers' defender Moses Malabela's attempted clearance ended up in his own net in the 88th minute.