Patrick Phungwayo says Free State Stars' fitness came to the fore in Nedbank Cup derby with Super Eagles
Posted: 15 February 2018 Time: 18:00
Free State Stars fullback Patrick Phungwayo says the hard-earned victory over neighbours Super Eagles showed they are among the fittest teams in the country.
Stars needed 120 minutes to beat the NFD side 2-1 in their Nedbank Cup opener last night via goals from Rooi Mahamutsa and Mohammed Anas at Goble Park.
"It was very tough, I mean it was almost like a derby itself you know," Phungwayo tells KickOff.com.
"It wasn't an easy game, but obviously we knew that it was gonna be like that because of the tension between the two clubs, especially because they are both based in Bethlehem.
"It's not easy playing against teams from the second division and obviously third division you know. So the game doesn't get easy. Of course we knew it was going to be like that because the coach [Luc Eymael] was telling us during the week that it's not gonna be an easy game. But I think we managed it well, hence we won the game.
"One thing that became evident last night is that we are one of the fittest teams in the PSL. To be able to score goals so late in the game proves that. I think the more we went to extra-time it's the more we maintained our fitness levels. Even if the game had an extra 10 minutes after extra-time we would have still played. We don't give up, we work hard."
The former Orlando Pirates star says his side were determined to avoid a penalty shootout.
"Penalties are always tricky obviously. When we went to the second half coach wanted us to improve our game. In the change room he gave us a lashing because we were not keeping to the plan. The plan was to not make them play; the plan was to press them high; the plan was to suffocate them and not give them a chance to play. We missed a lot of chances in the first half I must say. So ja, we needed to come back strongly and push up to the last minute."
The last-16 draw will take place at 19h30 tonight in Randburg.
Phungwayo adds: "You can't predict the draw, you just have to be ready for any opponent to move to the next round. Whoever comes we'll have to be prepared. You know this cup, it's been always the teams that are unknown who rises."