MDANTSANE – Pity about the 4-2 penalty shoot-out score-line in favour of SuperSport United, this was your money’s worth.
It’s seldom that you get short-changed when Chippa United are in action, especially at this venue.
And they would have come into this Nedbank Cup semi-final fixture as favourites following their 3-0 trouncing of this SuperSport United side in the Absa Premiership three days earlier.
Dan Malesela, who made his return to the Port Elizabeth-based outfit after spending a few weeks cooling off, having been put on “special leave” by chairman Chippa Mpengesi for recent poor results in the league, thought not to tinker with the winning side from the midweek victory where striker Rhulani Manzini bagged a hat-trick.
Spot on. Chippa were the better side, with a predictable, but effective high press that only needed a goal-poacher and didn’t get one in the end as the match ended goalless after extra time.
Manzini was only brought on as an impact player a few minutes before the hour-mark. That’s how Malesela prefers to use him.
His counterpart Stuart Baxter made eight changes from the team he sent out to be battered at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
To be convincing in the cup, the Scotsman had to bring in fresh legs, but eight seemed excessive. The last thing SuperSport needed with their demanding schedule from domestic and continental football was to go on for 120 minutes.
The visitors had been run ragged, as early as the opening few minutes when Katlego Mashego sliced his way past their defence, only to flush his opportunity to hit the target and trouble goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
That was pretty much the theme for Chippa, who were really good on the ball as the crowd spurred them on, but somehow lacked the killer instinct during normal time.
It seemed they were keen to walk the ball into the net – that’s the problem with Malesela’s entertaining football. All the coach could do was give his men that thousand-yard stare as they fluffed glaring opportunities to put the game to bed.
Baxter would have had his hand on his heart, hoping to avoid another visit to the hospital, having spent several days there recently following an illness.
Daniel Akpeyi, the Chippa goalkeeper, actually put in more of a shift than his opposite number Williams, as strange as that reads. While Chippa had the lion’s share of possession, they never quite threatened the SuperSport box, seemingly running out of ideas when in the final third.
Matsatsantsa took shots when in a similar position, but they, too, couldn’t hit the target.
Twice they had the chance to break the deadlock when, in the first half, winger Thuso Phala sent his attempt over the bar when it was begging to be put away.
Then in the second half, another winger in Mandla Masango couldn’t quite connect with a low cross from the flank, and failed to trouble keeper Akpeyi when he had an open net screaming to bulge.
When you take football to the people – this venue is right in the heart of the Mdantsane township – you hardly ever go wrong. A bit of precision from the teams, and it wouldn’t have been a sin to bring out the fireworks and confetti.
As it were, the game was decided on the lottery of penalties, SuperSport edging it to book their ticket in the June 24 final against either Golden Arrows or Orlando Pirates, who square off on Sunday.Independent Media