Thabo Mnyamane (R) wants to Supersport to do well in Africa. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Supersport United’s Caf Confederation Cup final loss to African giants TP Mazembe cut Thabo Mnyamane deep on two levels.

The first disappointment was losing out on being an African champion. The second was the helplessness he felt as he watched his teammates struggle to find a goal at Lucas Moripe Stadium in the second leg while he sat in the stands working on regaining full fitness from the groin injury he picked up in the MTN8 final against Cape Town City.

The timing of that injury was terrible for the club and the forward.

At the time, Mnyamane was leading Matsatsantsa a Pitori with distinction.

He had scored a crucial late goal against Club Africain in the Confederation Cup semi-final first leg, and the goal that took the MTN8 final to extra time before SuperSport won it on penalties in his absence.

“Watching the team was really hard because I felt helpless, unable to do anything,” Mnyamane said.

“But the boys really did well. They fought until the end and made everyone proud. They were just unlucky to lose the final.

“I followed every action half proud that we were playing against the best in the continent and half disappointed that I wasn’t there due to reasons beyond anyone’s control.

“Even though I wasn’t there, the trip to Tunisia (to take on Club Africain in the second leg) is the one I will never forget. The atmosphere at the stadium and how we played was amazing.”

Matsatsantsa will experience a similar atmosphere this afternoon against Kenyan giants Gor Mahia in the first leg of the Confederation Cup play-offs.

Gor Mahia are the most supported team in Kenya and they are a tough nut to crack in Nairobi, where even African giants Esperance left without finding the back of the net in the Caf Champions League.

But such environments bring out the best in Mnyamane, who is slowly becoming Mr Confederation Cup as the tough situations in this tournament bring out the best of him.

His brace against Petro de Luanda helped SuperSport come from behind to beat the Angolans and reach the play-offs, which now stand between them and a place in the group stage for a second successive year.

“I love this competition because you play against the best in the continent,” Mnyamane.

“That just automatically takes my game up a notch because I want to prove that I belong here and I can hold my own against the best Africa has to offer.

“I always try to give my all when I represent SuperSport but there is something special about playing at this level because I am also representing my country.”

The Confederation Cup has been a gift and a curse for SuperSport.

It helped them take their brand across the continent and test themselves against the best, but they paid the prize for that good run in the domestic league as they are now fighting to avoid relegation.

This trip to Kenya is a good distraction for that disappointing league campaign as reaching the group stage for the second successive year would make this a somewhat good season should they beat the drop with the MTN8 gleaming in their trophy cabinet.

That trophy was Mnyamane’s second title in his professional career. The Nedbank Cup last season was his first, and his appetite for more trophies is big.

“I want to be an African champion,” he stated.

“I know that we are capable of winning this trophy. We are mentally strong as a team and we now know what we will face.

“I also want to finish the tournament as the top goalscorer.”

Sunday Independent

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