|Maart Nooij @ Backpagepix
Newly-appointed Santos coach Maart Nooij admitted his side had to battle extremely hard for their 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday at Athlone.
In his first game in charge, the Dutchman had the satisfaction of seeing his team collect maximum points, a crucial result in their request to avoid relegation.
“The opponent played very well. We survived at the beginning of the match a storm, and at the end of the match a little storm. In the meantime of these storms, we scored two wonderful goals and we gave them one present.”
The Peoples’ Team are now one point behind Black Leopards, who lost 4-1 to AmaZulu.
With four games to go in the Absa Premiership, each match is of huge importance in terms of determining the immediate future of the Cape side.
“Santos will play the next ‘final’ at the grounds of Mamelodi Sundowns, as I told you, each game is a final. The players played with a lot of discipline and good organization, for which we trained,” added Nooij.
He also explained why Nasief Morris was played in an unfamiliar central midfield role.
“We knew Kaizer Chiefs have wonderful player, number 14 (Siphiwe Tshabalala), so we knew we had to neutralise him, I’m not talking about elimination, but neutralising.”
Santos captain Tyren Arendse praised his charges for the spirit they showed on Sunday.
“The only thing that will help us with the last five games is the fight and determination.
“There were times when Chiefs were on top, but because o the determination we kept it together. I must say well done to the guys, the effort was there, it was magnificent today.
“I wish we could play them (the Soweto giants Chiefs and Pirates) every week, we could win the league! For the players it’s all about the mentality – as players it’s something we need to work on in the future.”