JOHANNESBURG – A Thabo Mnyamane double was enough to help SuperSport United survive a scare and progress to the play-offs of the CAF Confederation Cup group stages at the expense of Petro de Luanda on Friday night.
On a rainy and windy evening at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, the Tshwane-based outfit had to dig deep in the second half to recover after defender Elio Wilson had given the visitors the lead – a crucial away goal that would have been enough to see them win the tie and make it to the next phase of the competition.
SuperSport, the finalists in last year’s edition, had failed to get something positive in the first leg away in Angola some ten days ago as Petro held them to a goalless draw. They were again a bit sluggish in the early minutes of this second leg and their opponents grew in confidence to eventually punish them soon after the half-time break.
Mnyamane had been lively, along with captain Dean Furman, who played a huge role in setting up the striker for his double.
Petro’s plan appeared to sit back and sucker punch the hosts on the counter attack, which they did when Wilson scored after SuperSport defenders were like antelopes in headlights when they had to deal with a set piece.
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams made the initial save to keep out Wilson’s first attempt, but was unsuccessful in keeping out the rebound. It had become a mammoth task for SuperSport to claw their way back, now needing two goals – without their visitors replying – to guarantee passage to the play-offs of the group stages.
But Mnyamane stepped up – twice.
Furman sent a long ball into the box from a free-kick outside the penalty area and after several poor attempts from Petro to clear the ball, Mnyamane managed to side foot the ball into the back of the net to bring SuperSport back on level terms.
The South Africans applied pressure and it was Furman again who negotiated his way past the opposition on the right flank and sent a lovely chip to find his target, and Mnyamane was there to do the rest.
The two goals secured the much needed win, which will also perhaps give SuperSport the belief that they can improve their awful performance in the domestic league to move away from the relegation zone with seven matches to go.
This poor run has ultimately cost Eric Tinkler his job, with Kaitano Tembo taking over two weeks ago in the interim until the end of the campaign. Tembo is auditioning for a permanent post and has been told if results go his way, the job is his on a full-time basis.
The last few minutes of this Confederation Cup tie is the kind of showing he will want from his men to not only move away from the danger zone in the league, but to also help him secure the vacant post.
SuperSport United (0) 2
Mnyamane 78, 83
Petro de Luanda (0) 1