JOHANNESBURG - SuperSport United’s front three - whether it’s Bradley Grobler, Evans Rusike and Fagrie Lakay or James Keene somewhere in the mix - has not scaled the heights of SA’s most prolific strike force quite yet. But Keene reckons it’s an added bonus that coach Kaitano Tembo can thrown any of them in and be sure to benefit from their contribution.
They’ve not been hyped up as much as the Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat, Dumisani Zuma and Lebogang Manyama attack at Kaizer Chiefs - or the trio of Ali Meza, Tony Silva and Phakamani Mahlambi at rivals Mamelodi Sundowns.
However, they could very well decide the MTN8 final on Saturday when SuperSport face Cape Town City in a repeat of the same fixture at this stage of the competition, at the same Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, last year.
“I think if you look at SuperSport in the last three or four years, there’s not been a club that has been as successful. Maybe Bidvest Wits and Sundowns. We go about our business and do it properly,” Keene said.
He was in the thick of things last weekend when Matsatsantsa thrashed hapless Black Leopards 4-0 in Atteridgeville to move up the Absa Premiership table, Keene scoring twice in a display that’s given coach Tembo no sleep ahead of picking the team for the final. But their win was dismissed by City coach Benni McCarthy as only a “smoke screen” performance, maybe because they were playing a struggling side.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to score,” Keene hit back. “You have got to win games and try keep a clean sheet at all times. How many teams have scored four goals this year and kept a clean sheet? I am not sure there’s another one - those are the facts. It doesn’t matter whether we beat Chiefs or Leopards, you’ve still got to win. We showed a lot of character and mental strength to go out there, when you are winning 3-0 not to concede. We still worked hard until the 95th minute.”
If SuperSport can be as polished against a team that’s a lot more difficult to play against, then McCarthy might have loads of humble pie waiting for him in the dressing room. “Me and Brad (Grobler) have shared a lot of the load," Keene added.
"I have played league games and he has been involved in the cups. I have assists and goals, and that is what you want as a striker. We are quite a dangerous combination. It’s fun to play at the moment and I think things will only get better. I think the goals against Leopards showed that.”