Kingston Nkhatha celebrates after scoring the third goal for SuperSport United on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

ATTERIDGEVILLE – For the first time in the country’s history, South Africa looks set to have more than one team in the group stage of the continent’s club competitions.

Mamelodi Sundowns reached the group stage of the CAF Champions League on Saturday while their neighbours, SuperSport United, moved one round closer to doing the same thing in the CAF Confederation Cup on Sunday.

SuperSport made light work of Al-Ahly Shendi, who came into this match carrying a 3-2 advantage from the first leg, with a 4-0 victory that saw them advance 6-3 on aggregate.

It was a slender lead that saw the Matsatsantsa a Pitori needing to win by just 1-0 to make it to the next stage. They were 3-0 up just before the hour mark.

Kingston Nkhatha and Aubrey Modiba delivered the blows that took the wind out of the visitors, taking Matsatsantsa to the Confederation Cup playoffs. They join Platinum Stars and Bidvest Wits there.

SuperSport and Dikwena will be pitted against the sides that were knocked out of the Champions League, which includes five-time African champions TP Mazembe, while Wits will face one of the teams from the Confederation Cup.

If any of these clubs win the two-legged matches next month, it will be the first time that South Africa have two clubs in the group stage of continental competitions.

That hasn’t happened since the Champions League was restructured in 1997 and the Confederation Cup was formed in 2004 by merging the African Cup Winners’ Cup and the CAF Super Cup.

SuperSport have enough firepower to reach the group stage, but their only concern is injuries. Nkhatha and Reneilwe Letsholonyane limped off the field on Sunday night. That was the only thing that dampened a good night for the club.

The match started on a rather comical note. The Al-Ahly Shendi bench decided to sit on the floor, arguing they preferred that after the portable dugout fell twice because of the wind that easily blew it without any occupants.

The match commissioner said that won’t happen, but the Sudanese sat on plastic chairs instead.

That was the only light side of the match. The game was played with a lot of tension, making the Madagascan referee, Ahmad Imtehaz Heeralall, work overtime to calm the players down.

Matsatsantsa bullied Shendi off the ball and the visitors milked it, falling dramatically as they looked for sympathy from the referee.

Shendi didn’t sit back, though, as they took the game to SuperSport. Ronwen Williams was the first goalkeeper to make a save, denying Mohamed Koko a goal from a powerful shot. But SuperSport were just too strong for the visitors.

Supersport United defender Clayton Daniels is challenged by Eid Mugadam Abakar Mugadam of Al Ahly Shendi. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

They used their aerial and physical strength to good effect to take the lead through Tefu Mashamaite. The lanky defender rose high to head Thabo Mnyamane’s cross. Eltayeb Abaker unwittingly put the ball into his own net, much to the delight of the small crowd that was here.

A handful of the Shendi fans had left by then and they didn’t see much of the carnage that followed. They decided, seeing Mashamaite’s goal, that it was enough for them.

The hosts were firmly in control throughout this encounter, making the most of their advantage.

SuperSport decided on an unusual 6pm kickoff on Sunday because they didn’t want to play during the day in hot conditions as Shendi are used to that.

The weather played ball, producing a windy afternoon that was somewhat chilly. SuperSport made the most of it and blew their opponents away.

Independent Media