JOHANNESBURG – SuperSport United believe they have the beating of TP Mazembe when the two sides collide next month.
They are armed with the experience of coach Eric Tinkler – who fell at the last hurdle in the Caf Confederation Cup two years ago – several internationals and the camaraderie that grew stronger during their African sojourn in the same tournament this year.
While the South Africans were clinical on the road, Mazembe laboured to the final as they held on to their first leg 1-0 advantage over Morocco’s FUS Rabat.
Mazembe, the title holders, drew the second leg 0-0 at Stade de FUS on Saturday night.
SuperSport put up a superior performance to thump Club Africain 3-1 at the Stade Olympique de Rades on Sunday to win with an aggregate score of 4-2, following the first leg semi-final stalemate in Pretoria three weeks ago.
“The secret is to play with no fear,” said a triumphant Tinkler, as he lines up for another continental final after the 2015 disappointment with Orlando Pirates.
The Buccaneers were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel then.
“We are going to face a team that has a lot of experience in TP Mazembe – a team that has won the Champions League and the Confederation Cup, but it is a team we have played before.
“We needed to come here (to face Club Africain), face a hostile crowd and environment, but we needed to come and play with no fear.
“And that is the way we have got to treat the game against Mazembe. Irrespective of all the experience that they have, we can beat them,” added Tinkler.
SuperSport will be away for the first leg on November 17, and then host the Democratic Republic of Congo giants a week later at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
The coach said while he wasn’t surprised that Matsatsantsa took control of the game – scoring the opener from an incredible Bradley Grobler header and then one from Jeremy Brockie, with Grobler getting his second in between Club Africain pulling one back via the penalty spot – he was a little stunned at how much the home side opened up.
The Tunisians chose not to protect their away-goal advantage, trying to be a little more expansive and getting punished by the striking pair of Grobler and Brockie, who scored his 10th goal to become the tournament’s leading marksman.
“I have always thought that they are a good team, particularly in attack,” Tinkler said. “I was quite surprised not to see (Manoubi) Haddad in the line-up because he hurt us back in South Africa.
“I think defensively that is where the frailties are, but going forward, this is a very good team. We exploited that very well. I think we are at a level or stage of the competition where all the teams you are playing against are very good teams and there for a reason.
“Club Africain are no different. I don’t think it’s a case of them being poor on the day, but a case of us being good, hence the fact that we got the result. I thought we were really good in the first 30 minutes of the match.”
Matsatsantsa have safely landed back in South Africa 🇿🇦 #SkeemaMatsatsantsa
Tinkler praised his side’s composure as well as the ability to read the game – something he will again need as a contributing factor against Mazembe.
“Our decision-making was very good. We knew that they (Club Africain) would play in a 4-3-3 formation, but we just weren’t too sure whether they would play with the three defensive midfielders, which they did.
“And it was to our advantage, as that meant they would be sitting back and really just hoping to hit us on the counter-attack,” he explained.
“I thought we dealt with them very well in that first 30 minutes. We created chances, got the lead and immediately after scoring, we changed the way we played.
“I think players, to a degree, started to panic a little bit and knocking long balls. We rectified that at halftime, and I thought the response in the second half was exceptional.
“I am extremely proud of my players, and I think we thoroughly deserve to be in the final.”