DURBAN – If SuperSport United were still recovering from their first league loss in 19 outings, Tuesday night’s 2-0 Nedbank Cup last 16 win over KwaDukuza United in Clermont would have lifted them from their lethargy.
Before the FIFA international week Supersport went 19 league games undefeated until the 1-0 loss against lowly Baroka FC at the weekend.
They were not about to let another lowly ranked side get the better of them, especially one from the second division.
Stuart Baxter’s men put on a determined performance, if not a dominant one, against the amateurs as a goal in each half from Mandla Masango and Aubrey Modiba booked their passage into the quarter-finals.
The defending champions were given a solid workout in the first half against the rookies, who were backed by a raucous crowd that filled the two concrete stands almost to capacity.
A tightly contested opening period was edged 1-0 by the visitors thanks to a 36th minute header from midfielder Mandla Masango. He sneaked in at the near post to connect with Thuso Phala's cross.
KwaDukuza were competitive. Midfielder Malusi Mseleku forced a 2nd minute save from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but overall their attacks lacked penetration against Supersport’s central defensive pairing of Clayton Daniels and Denwin Farmer.
The cup holders made six changes for the trip to Durban. In came several fringe players, among them Michael Morton, Farmer, Teboho Mokoena and Morne Nel.
The Pretoria side started regulars Dean Furman, Thabo Mnyamane, Jeremy Brockie and Reneilwe Letsholonyane on the bench, potentially to keep them fresh for their bigger challenge in Africa.
Supersport next visit Liberia for Sunday's Confederation Cup match against Barrack Young Controllers, after which they have a potential Absa Premiership title showdown with neighbours and defending league champions Mamelodi Sundowns in a Tshwane derby.
On the flip side the amateurs put out their best line-up, making one change to the team that knocked out Ajax Cape Town in one of the biggest upsets of the earlier round.
If anything they were undaunted by the occasion and pushed to equalise. Early after the interval substitute striker Siyabonga Thwala had a decent shout for a penalty ignored and midway through the half striker Lungelo Zondi ballooned an effort following a neat build-up from their own box.
Supersport brought on the big guns, international strikers Thabo Mnyamane and Jeremy Brockie for Phala and goalscorer Masango respectively.
It gave the side a sharper edge and after they weathered a storm from the home unit they wrapped the tie with the second via the boot of Aubrey Modiba in the 85th minute.
Mnyamane’s sending off for a straight red card offence two minutes later only added drama to the end of the game. It means the Bafana Bafana striker will miss the derby against Sundowns next week.