YOU can’t win them all, so goes the old adage, but SuperSport United are in a win or bust scenario this afternoon in their final group match in the CAF Confederation Cup when they host whipping boys CF Mounana from Gabon.
It will certainly feel like the long arduous trips on the continent - from South Africa via Dubai en route to Guinea and then back again using the same itinerary for instance - were not all for nothing if passage to the quarter-finals of the competition is secured today.
“We are feeling like we want to complete this task to be honest,” said midfielder Michael Morton. “Obviously it is not completely in our hands, but we just have to get a win and hope for the best in the other fixture.” The other Group D match is between log leaders and defending champions TP Mazembe at home against second placed Horoya, the two sides tied on nine points, while SuperSport are in third position on seven as they face Mounana, who are already eliminated.
Morton and his teammates have been good on the road, beating Mounana 5-3 in Libreville, coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 in Kinshasa against Mazembe and holding Horoya to a goalless draw in Conakry last week.
But can they win at home?
“We would like to think the game will be a little bit easier just because they (Mounana) are at sea level down there and to come up to altitude is always difficult,” said Morton. “They also don’t have much to play for because they are pretty much out of the group as well. We back ourselves for sure, but we have to go out there and get the job done. To finish top of the group would be great, but just going through will be okay.”
Should SuperSport progress to the next phase, the players will have a week off at the most to rest before the start of the domestic campaign next month and the resumption of the Confederation Cup quarter-finals, something that doesn’t bother Morton.
“It’s about cramming games in really,” he said. “I prefer it that way to be honest because I obviously prefer matches over training sessions. The more matches that come, the better. I welcome it. The struggle is the travelling, and it looks like most of the teams in the next round are mostly North African teams as well, which means a fair share of travel. But you get to see the continent, which is nice because it is not just all football. Good memories, and good stories to tell.”
And in that next phase Matsatsantsa will have to adjust to the methods of a new coach after Eric Tinkler, a finalist with Orlando Pirates in 2015 of the same competition, officially took over from Stuart Baxter earlier this week.
“I think football is a global language and at the end of the day if we have to adjust it is possible because we played a couple of different styles with Stuart. This squad is capable of adapting. I don’t know if he (Tinkler) will make massive changes. I don’t think he will be phased at all having been at Pirates. To be honest I think he will take over pretty easily,” said Morton.