JOHANNESBURG – The difficult period that SuperSport United is going through, fighting to avoid relegation instead of battling for the championship like they normally do, will strengthen the team’s character going forward, Thuso Phala argues.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori sit in an unfamiliar position, third from bottom with three matches to go.
A point separates them from Ajax Cape Town, who are currently in the play-off spot.
SuperSport find themselves in this position mainly due to the slump they hit after reaching the final of the Caf Confederation Cup, which they lost 2-1 on aggregate to African giants TP Mazembe back in November.
Matsatsantsa have registered only three wins from the 14 league games they have played since losing to Mazembe.
“We will be a better club after this,” Phala said.“This has been a lesson for everyone, including management. Doing well in the Confederation Cup and then struggling upon our return to the league showed that we need to have depth in the team to compete locally and in the continent."
“This showed us that games in hand don’t mean anything. At bone stage, we were third on the log with five games in hand and now we are third from bottom. This game has no guarantees. You have to give everything on the field to get the results.”
SuperSport have shifted their focus from the league to the Confederation Cup play-offs as they host Kenyan giants Gor Mahia at Lucas Moripe Stadium tomorrow at 7pm in the second leg.
The Tshwane side needs to score two unanswered goals to reach the group stage for the second year in a row after losing 1-0 in Nairobi in the first leg.
“This tournament is very important for us as a club,” Phala said.
“It helps in the upbringing of young players. The likes of Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule came through this tournament and they grew. So we don’t regret doing well last season and we want to go far this year too.
“It would be nice to reach the final again and win it this time around so that we can write our names in the club’s history. That’s why it’s important for us to reach the group stage.
“We now know what we need to do to go all the way in the Confederation Cup and also do well in the league.”
Scoring two unanswered goals against Gor Mahia is a tough ask for a team that hasn’t found the back of the net in their past four games in all competitions. Only bottom-placed Platinum Stars have scored fewer goals than Matsatsantsa in the league. The subject of goal droughts embarrasses Phala.
“Some people might say we’ve had a bad season but looking back, we won a cup (MTN8) and we reached the final of the Confederation Cup.
“It’s not such a bad season when you factor in those achievements. But when you look at the log, it does look like it’s a bad season. The good thing is the club supports us and understand why we are in this position. We just have to push until the end.
“It’s very difficult to find myself in a situation where I haven’t scored in the league this season. It’s a disappointing season for me individually in that regard.
“When you have players who usually score for you, when they don’t score it affects the club.”