DURBAN – SuperSport United’s pedigree won over Cape Town City’s energy after the Pretoria side lifted their second trophy in a third straight final with a come-from-behind 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph with 10 men on Saturday night.
Playing with 10 men for the final 10 minutes of regulation time at Moses Mabhida Stadium after substitute Thabo Mnyamane’s injury, SuperSport pushed through extra time and won 4-2 on penalties.
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams pulled off two saves in that decisive period to pocket R8 million for the Pretoria outfit.
Earlier, a goal midway through the first half livened up the affair.
Until Sibusiso Masina switched from the right to the left flank and drilled in a low shot off Ebrahim Seedat’s pass in the 23rd minute, it was pretty much SuperSport in control.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Aubrey Miodiba and Thuso Phala ensured early possession for SuperSport, although goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters was not troubled in the early exchanges, save for sliding out to deny Jeremy Brockie possession.
City were pegged back initially, despite Masina and veteran Teko Modise getting into decent positions to supply main forward Lehlohonolo Majoro.
Against the run of play, the goal brought parity to the 10th anniversary of the final under the MTN banner.
The open attacking play made up somewhat for the relatively small crowd.
The neutral venue was less than half-full, unsurprising given the forecast of wet weather following the thunderstorms that wreaked destruction in the city earlier in the week.
Debris of broken branches still lined the pavement on the main road to the stadium, but inside, the pitch was in decent playing condition, having had sufficient time to drain out the torrential downpour.
Live music acts, with performances from Babes Wodumo, L’vovo and Tipcee amongst others created for a brighter atmosphere than the turnout suggested.
In the latter stages of the half, Dean Furman had a shot from close range blocked for a corner by Seedat as SuperSport pushed numbers forward.
With a winner-takes-all format introduced by the sponsors several years ago, SuperSport had to go for broke after the interval if they wanted to revel in the R8 million prize glory.
This was the Pretoria side’s fifth final in the competition, with only one win in 2004, to brag about.
SuperSport coach Eric Tinkler would have reminded his charges of that statistic. On a personal note, he ended up on the losing side twice, both occasions while serving as an assistant coach for Orlando Pirates.
No surprise then that the 35-year-old legs of Letsholonyane made way for striker Thabo Mnyamane minutes after the restart.
On the other hand, City coach Benni McCarthy was on the verge of his first triumph as a coach.
Having seen it all as a player – he is the only South African to have won a European Champions League medal – this was his moment to make a mark as a tactician in his first head coach appointment, ironically replacing Tinkler at the start of this campaign.
With just under 30 minutes on the clock, McCarthy made his first change, shoring up the defence with the fresh legs of Austrian midfielder Roland Putsche in place of Modise.
Like with the opener, City might have again profited through the left flank. This time Lyle Lakay burst through and fed Majoro, but his sliding attempt was thwarted.
There was little for SuperSport to enthuse about. The only fireworks on that end of the pitch were coming from the Diwali fireworks display on the beachfront, visible from the stadium.
Kiwi assassin Brockie, his team’s leading scorer in the competition with three goals, was replaced by Dove Wome as Tinkler searched for a way back.
As the pyrotechnics reached a crescendo, SuperSport found their goal touch. For once Robyn Johannes and Taariq Fielies were breached down the middle, and up popped Mnyamane to knock in a pass from striker Bradley Grobler for the 81st-minute leveller.
City had the advantage again after Mnyamane went off injured following the equaliser, with all the substitutions done, but SuperSport held on for the shoot-out where goalkeeper Williams made two saves to deny Lakay and Judas Moseamedi.