SuperSport and Cape Town City locked horns in the MTN 8 final as they looked to secure their first piece of silverware of the 2017/2018 campaign.
Both clubs went into the encounter with a point to prove and the fact that Matsatsantsa were coached by the former City coach Eric Tinkler only spiced up matters even further. With so much hype surrounding the matchup between two of South Africa’s rising giants, both coaches opted for experience in their respective line-ups.
Tinkler continued to show consistency as he named an almost unchanged starting XI from the team which drew to Club Africain in the Caf Confederation Cup, while the Citizens coach Benni McCarthy brought in his tried and tested. Most notably, Teko Modise was given the nod to marshal the midfield alongside Mpho Matsi.
The game was played at an exciting tempo and the opening stages of the encounter saw SuperSport look to assert their authority early on. The attacking combination of Bradley Grobler and Jeremy Brockie was proving difficult to handle for the City defensive pairing of Robyn Johannes and Taariq Fielies but City keeper Shuaib Walter was up to the task as he foiled several of SuperSport’s dangerous attacks.
Meanwhile, at the other end Lehlohonolo Majoro had a glorious chance to give his side the lead following an exciting build-up. But the 31-year-old failed to guide Sibusiso Masina’s superb ball past Rowen Williams.
While SuperSport continued to dictate play, in the 23rd minute it was City who eventually broke the deadlock arguably against the run of play. Masina showed great composure as he poked his effort past a despairing Williams.
The goal certainly livened up the encounter to the excitement of a healthy Durban crowd in attendance. With 35 minutes played, SuperSport had a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser after Walters failed to deal with a SuperSport cross leading to Grobler being spectacularly denied by a block from Ebrahim Seedat.
At the other end, City came into their own towards the end of the first half as SuperSport began to tire, but they could not add to their lead as they went into the interval a goal to the good.
The resumption of the second half once again saw SuperSport look to grab the early ascendency and Tinkler saw the opportunity to bring on the exciting winger Thabo Mnyamane in place of the experienced Reneilwe Letsholonyane just after the break.
Nonetheless, with just under an hour played Majoro came agonisingly close to doubling City’s advantage, but he could not direct the ball goalwards from in front of Williams’ goal. Majoro was keeping the SuperSport defence busy and had another chance to find his goal after being played through by Teko Modise but was thwarted by Williams.
SuperSport were struggling to fashion opportunities as the Capetonians looked comfortable. The counterattack was continually a threat to SuperSport’s defenders, but with 10 minutes remaining substitute Mnyamane found the back of the net. The 25-year-old broke through on goal before expertly slotting his effort home from close range. The goal came at a price though, as Mnyamane injured himself in the build-up to the goal, meaning that SuperSport needed to play the remaining minutes with 10-men as they had used up all 3 of their substitutions.
Nevertheless, extra time was needed to decide the winner as neither side could find the breakthrough. The extra 30 minutes was a battle of attrition as both sides looked tired and SuperSport’s numerical disadvantage made it an even more difficult task. The Tshwane side’s only really opportunity of the first half came through Dove Wome, but his shot flew over Walters’ goal from the edge of the area. Towards the end, City had an opportunity of their own, but Thabo Nodada failed to get his head onto a dangerous cross.
The second stanza was a far more tentative affair and the encounter looked destined for a penalty shootout. City bombarded the SuperSport box with wave after wave of pressure but the wounded SuperSport resolutely held on forcing City into the dreaded lottery.
City’s hearts were eventually broken as Williams came out trumps denying Lakay and Judas Moseamedi, giving SuperSport yet another cup win.