Pretoria – Cavin Johnson believes his SuperSport United outfit will look back on their Premiership campaign with mixed feelings in a season filled with plenty of missed opportunities and poor results.
Although United secured a top eight finish with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Polokwane City on the last day of the season, a fifth-place finish for the Pretoria side marks a somewhat disappointing conclusion to a season which started with six weeks at the top of the table.
“We’ll take it and run with it, but when you look at the games we lost, where we played a lot better than we played today, then you ask yourself, maybe we should have been a bit higher,” Johnson said after the game at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.
“We inherited a team that was used to a certain way of playing, a certain way of training and we came along and changed it completely.”
A brace from Thuso Phala, as well as goals from Thabiso Nkoana
and Bennett Chenene guided Matsatsantsa to their 14th consecutive top eight finish, while City were condemned to a fight for promotion and relegation and will begin their mission to stay in the country’s top-flight next week.
“It wasn’t one of the best games we played this season. I didn’t think the football was that good, but you know what they say, ‘there’s no comments in the results column,’” Johnson added.
“We scored four goals, they scored two goals.
“I felt that our players, because of the amount of effort and will that they wanted to win this game, they were jut not at their best.”
Having not finished outside of the top eight for 13 successive seasons since 2000, United were under pressure to keep their top half record in tact, particularly under coach Cavin Johnson, in his first season with the Pretoria club.
Needing a win, United did what was needed, wrapping up a season of disappointing results against teams United would have been looking to beat in order to challenge for a top four finish.
Defeats to Free State Stars, Ajax Cape Town and bottom-placed Golden Arrows in recent weeks ended any hopes of a strong finish, as SuperSport headed into the game eighth in the standings and at one point on Saturday, looking destined to finish ninth.
“We had a new tactical team, not only myself, but also the assistant coach, the goalkeeper coach, the physiotherapist, the masseur, the physical trainer… we were all new,” Johnson said.
“If you look at the average age of the team last year, I think the average age was 30. The average age of our team this year is 23.
“There are seven years in between and for me, those are all factors, not excuses, but factors outside of football.” – Sapa