JOHANNESBURG - Teboho Mokoena is bullish in his talk about the Caf Confederation Cup even though SuperSport United’s good run last year had a negative impact on their league form, which sees them flirting with relegation.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori are precariously positioned in 14th place, a mere three points ahead of Ajax Cape Town who are in the play-offs spot and 10 ahead of bottom dwellers Platinum Stars.
SuperSport are in this position because of their poor run after they lost in the Confederation Cup final to TP Mazembe. They have won just three games from the 19 league matches they played after losing to Mazembe.
Eric Tinkler resigned as coach due to the pressure from the bad patch and the fact he felt that he had lost the dressing room.
The club’s chief executive Stanley Matthews said they might not go all out this year in the Confederation Cup due to the physical and financial toll reaching the final has had on them. But Mokoena is having none of that, he feels that they have unfinished business in the continent.
“We want to win it because last year we lost in the final,” Mokoena said. “That has motivated us to work harder to win it this time around. We have what it takes to win it. I don’t think this competition will be a distraction in our fight to move up the league.
"I don’t think this thing of resting players works. If you rest players, the next game they are going to come back flat. The more you play, the more consistent you are. If we keep playing these tournaments, we'll improve.”
SuperSport put on a brave fight on Friday at Lucas Moripe Stadium against Petro de Luanda of Angola, coming from a goal down to win 2-1 and book a place in the play-offs. Matsatsantsa will face one of the teams that were knocked out of the Champions League in the draw that will be conducted in Cairo on Wednesday. SuperSport will play the first leg away before hosting the second leg with a place in the group stage of the Confederation Cup up for grabs.
This tournament has helped fast-track Mokoena’s growth. The 20-year-old credits SuperSport’s run in the Confederation Cup last year and also playing in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup as important campaigns in his growth that led to him being named in the Bafana Bafana squad to play in the Four Nations in Zambia.
“Playing international football with the Under-20 national team and SuperSport has prepared me well for this call-up,” Mokoena said. “Those type of competitions expand your thinking and capabilities. The World Cup was more challenging than anything I have faced. That helped me grow.
"Playing in the Confederation Cup was a different challenge, it tested my mental resolve more than my talent. I am very happy to have received this call-up, it is a big achievement. I have to step up to the challenge and show I deserve to be there.”