SuperSport United’s decision to play seven of their DSTV Premiership home matches at Peter Mokaba Stadium this season could well work against them in their quest to dethrone neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns as champions.
Though Matsatsantsa a Pitori won their opening match of the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Richards’ Bay at the Polokwane arena, coach Gavin Hunt expressed some understandable misgivings at having to play some 300km away from their base.
“At home?”Hunt responded sarcastically to a question post match about them having had a ‘good start at home”.
“I was really worried today,” he explained “As a home game I would have been far more relaxed because I am at home, but it’s clashing, but it is a home game, anyway.”
Hunt had a point, for while SuperSport ordinarily do not have a huge following – they usually get a decent crowd at the Lucas Moripe Stadium which was initially declared unsuitable until this past weekend when it was given the go-ahead to host matches.
At the Atteridgeville venue, Matsatsantasa are always cheered on by a large group of drum-beating and singing fans. Not so at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday, when they had no more than 50 fans whose singing was even drowned out by the shouts from the benches.
SuperSport registered the TUT Stadium as well as Peter Mokaba as their homegrounds for the season.
Hunt’s qualms with his team having to play in Polokwane has little to do with not having support but more to do with the time wasted on travelling.
“The problem we, playing three games a week is that there’s no training. And by playing a home game here, we could train tomorrow but there’s no training cos we are travelling,” he said after Saturday’s match.
“A home game takes one day, but now a home game takes three days because we come the day before and then the day after we have to travel back. But at home, we don’t camp, we just go straight to the games, so we are the only team that does that and that suits us, but here it is three days.”
That Lucas Moripe is now available is bitter-sweet for the multiple championship-winning coach.
“It was disappointing (that Lucas Moripe was unavailable). Yesterday they announced that (Kaizer) Chiefs are playing Sundowns – the biggest crowd you are gonna have at Lucas and we could not play there. I don’t know how these things work.”
Often when PSL clubs play matches outside their provinces, it is because there is a lucrative financial deal with the particular municipality.
And while it would appear that Hunt would rather they did not play in Polokwane for reasons mentioned above, there’s little chance of SuperSport getting out of the seven-match deal to take their games to the now available Lucas Moripe Stadium.