DURBAN – Over to you, Eric Tinkler.
The incoming SuperSport United coach would not have been anywhere near this Orlando Pirates massacre here in Durban, but it’s possible he may have been watching as his new side carved open the Buccaneers to retain this Nedbank Cup trophy.
This game was a farewell for Stuart Baxter as he leaves club football to fully concentrate on guiding Bafana Bafana to next year’s World Cup in Russia and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
But Tinkler will wonder how he can improve them when he takes over as early as next week following a fairytale stint with Cape Town City during the 2016/17 campaign, in which they finished third amidst zero expectations that they would be among the Premier League title contenders.
SuperSport, however, expect him to add more silverware, just like Baxter did here on Saturday night in a superior performance against an awful Pirates outfit.
At least he inherits a seemingly well-oiled machine, while his counterpart at Pirates, Kjell Jonevret, knows his side needs a complete makeover.
A game that was slow to pick up the pace turned into a blinder, at least for SuperSport, much later on when Jeremy Brockie – who had missed a penalty in the second half – added to his strike partner Bradley Grobler’s 33rd-minute opener.
They flattered to deceive in the opening minutes, captain Oupa Manyisa with some silky touches to get the crowd going as the Buccaneers pressed SuperSport in search of an early lead.
But when they couldn’t break them, Bradley Grobler drew first blood when he finished off a Grant Kekana cross, easily sliding it past goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Suddenly, the Pirates back-four was vulnerable and Jonevret appeared to have got his tactics and starting line-up all wrong.
Abbubaker Mobara was shifted yet again and moved to centre-back this time around after being used as a defensive midfielder in a lot of the games leading up to this final, while Patrick Phungwayo was chosen ahead of Marc van Heerden at left back. Questionable choices indeed.
SuperSport were only happy to punish them for their errors, and it could have come even earlier had Brockie’s spot-kick not been saved by Mpontshane.
But the goal-machine, who’s made a habit of scoring in big games, made amends.
Then Grobler joined the party soon after to get his second of the night and SuperSport’s third, before substitute Kingston Nkhatha bagged a fourth when the clash was over as a contest.
The supporters who were promised so much in the build-up and left bitterly disappointed reacted by throwing objects at the security personnel, and invading the pitch as they again sought answers from both players and the technical team.
When Manyisa scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot in referee’s optional time, a few had begun making their way home.
A disturbing ending to a match that proved SuperSport could have been more than simply a title contender had they stayed focused.
Jonevret, on the other hand, seriously has his work cut out – if he decides to stick around to try to fix this clutter.