Grobler nets winner as SuperSport United grab MTN8 crown
SOWETO – SuperSport United’s MTN8 triumph here at the Orlando Stadium meant the world to Keitano Tembo, the Zimbabwean-born coach who spent the entire 90 minutes on his feet barking instructions as his troops defeated Highlands Park 1-0 in the final of the Wafa-Wafa competition on Saturday night.
This was Tembo’s second MTN8 final in as many seasons as coach, justifying why his time to hold the reins had come after holding many positions in his 20 year stay career with the club.
In a game that had two different tactical acumen, quick interchange and counter-pressing, the two teams started play with a cautious approach.
They somewhat knew that being sloppy could kiss their R8 Million aspirations goodbye, however, that bluntness was a probably a bitter pill to swallow for those that garned here to witness history being made.
Eventually champions SuperSport were making their third successive appearance in the final of the Wafa-Wafa competition, winning and losing the last two.
Highlands, on the other hand, who were tipped as underdogs because this was their first appearance in a cup final in 32 years or so.
However, normally the freedom of playing with nothing to lose becomes the fuel that drives teams to actually churn out their best, ending up putting the opposition to the sword.
Such that, here, the Lions of the North were better of the two teams in opening stages as they could easily dictate play, while trying to penetrate SuperSport’s defensive line.
However, the latter stood their ground, goalkeeper Ronwen Wiiliams having been forced into a fine save following a pin-point shot from Mthobi Mvala in the fourth minute.
That was enough to give Owen Da Gama’s troops confidence going forward as they continued to huff and puff in order to get the lead.
The good old football saying that possession doesn’t win you matches, indeed, became reality as SuperSport pounced on the stroke of half-time to put one hand on the trophy.
Down the right by-line, Teboho Mokoena skinned his marker before delivering a telling pass that was timely intercepted by Bradley Grobler, who’s header kissed the roof of the net.
The Lions of the North should have roared their way back to the game early in the second half but they were unfortunate as an onrushing Given Msimango had his header come off the woodwork before Lindokuhle Mbatha’s rebound was blocked by Williams.
Soon after, Grobler should have registered his double after being teed by strike partner Thamsanqa Gabuza from close-range, but the Bafana Bafana had his shot hit the side-netting.
It was starting to become nigh impossible for Highlands to get themselves back to the game, as they were caught napping upfront and let down by their inability to hit the off-side trap.
However, that could have duly came back to haunt the Lions of the North as Evans Rusike ballooned a close-range effort to the stands soon after, an opportunity that could have seen them wrap the match.
Nonetheless, SuperSport hung on for their second MTN8 crown in three seasons. Da Gama and his charges were probably hard-done by today’s results as they had come a long way to get where they are today.
It was, however, a lesson to take forward especially if they are going `to be forces to be reckoned with in the Premiership this season,