SuperSport United's Siyabonga Nhlapo speaks to Goal about lessons learnt in Caf Confed Cup final

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Despite suffering defeat in the first leg, the Matsatsantsa defender is still optimistic ahead of their return leg against TP Mazembe on Saturday

SuperSport United might have suffered defeat in their Caf Confederation Cup final first leg encounter in Lubumbashi, but there's still an air of optimism ahead of the return leg this coming weekend.

Full-back Siyabonga Nhlapo believes that despite the 2-1 loss, the most important aspect is that they managed to score away from home, meaning they will need to at least win 1-0 to claim their maiden continental crown.   

“I think one valuable lesson was the away goal. We know that they were at home but we needed to score, and we did that,” Nhlapo told Goal.

He further adds that SuperSport witnessed first-hand the importance of utilising home ground advantage as Mazembe were buoyed on by their fanatical fan base in Lubumbashi, and Nhlapo is hopeful that SuperSport can also take full advantage of playing in front of their home crowd.

“Although, we couldn’t consolidate that goal, I think what they did was use their home advantage. So, we saw what playing at home means and what playing away means. So, we got a bit of both experiences and now we will try and prevent them from scoring two away goals, and make sure at home we keep a clean sheet, because we all know if we get a goal or two at home then we stand a good chance, but if they don’t score and we score then we all know that we can win the game,” he explained.

The 28-year-old also mentioned that if SuperSport are to be victorious, they will have to cut out the mistakes at the back.

“So, the lesson we learnt there was the away goal is important and not to concede,” he said.

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“Even here, we can’t make the same mistakes (conceding) because if you looked at how we conceded, it was a shot away from the 18-yard area, and the second one was a corner which should not have happened with the height, strength and organisation that we have. I think those are the lessons learnt," he said.

Meanwhile, after undergoing a difficult spell at Wits where he was subsequently loaned out to Highlands Park, Nhlapo is eager to repay coach Eric Tinkler’s faith in him.

“It’s the flip of football - one time you are down, one time you are up. I think having been given the nod and the go ahead to be part of the team, it shows the trust the team has in me and it shows the confidence that the coach has in me. The only thing that I can do is to repay him and make sure I deliver on the field and help the team,” he concluded.

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