The Ronwen Williams show: Tactical analysis of SuperSport United's MTN8 final win over Cape Town City

SuperSport United, Ronwen Williams
Goal analyses the tactical battle that was between Matsatsantsa and the Citizens in the MTN8 final

SuperSport United continued their impressive record in knockout competitions with victory over Cape Town City on Saturday night.

The Tshwane-based outfit needed to prove their grit and desire as they were driven all the way against a spirited City side before Ronwen Williams once again showed his penalty saving prowess as he guided Matsatsantsa to the MTN 8 title.

The Citizens coach, Benni McCarthy, might have been disappointed with the result but he could not fault his side’s effort against a club slowly becoming the ‘Cup Kings’ of South African football, and with the game now something of the past, Goal breaks down the key tactical aspects of the game and what SuperSport coach Eric Tinkler did right to steer his team to victory.

Eric Tinkler of SuperSport United

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Firstly, both coaches opted for line-ups filled with experience and one player in particular for City, who stood out as he rolled back the years was Teko Modise. The veteran showed calmness and composure that South Africans have become accustomed to seeing from him over the years and his playmaking role allowed Mpho Matsi to sit back and be used in a more defensive role.

Modise was also unlucky not to have registered an assist when he played Lehlohonolo Majoro through on goal, but the former Kaizer Chiefs striker experienced a night to forget as he squandered several opportunities.

On first look, McCarthy will rue his team’s missed opportunities especially when they were 1-0 up and might even look at the decision not to bring on Ayanda Patosi as an opportunity missed, as the playmaker’s attacking flair and composure could have been vital against a beleaguered SuperSport team towards the end of the game.

Nonetheless, one decision which the former Bafana Bafana striker made which he deserves credit for, is his decision to play Taariq Fielies. The 25-year-old former Milano United defender justified his inclusion in the squad ahead of the experienced Tshepo Gumede as he was solid throughout the encounter.

Benni McCarthy of Cape Town City

Meanwhile, City went into the clash looking to play off the counter attack which gave them the advantage, especially when the SuperSport players began to fatigue. 

But it should be noted that McCarthy’s more conservative approach also did not give them that killer instinct. With Majoro leading the line, it did not allow City to trouble Williams enough as much as the former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker was forced to play with his back towards goal for most of the game.

Nevertheless, the tactical change of the game must go to Tinkler for taking off the evergreen Reneilwe Letsholonyane in favour of young and energetic Thabo Mnyamane.

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While at first glance many would have been critical of the substitution as Bradley Grobler would have been a better option to take off considering that he had little to no effect on the game at that point, but the change eventually paid off and Tinkler would be able to sleep even easier at night knowing that Grobler provided the assist.

The substitution certainly gave SuperSport more directness in their play and an added attacking impetus, which in Tinkler’s defence, the creative Letsholonyane did not offer playing in that deep lying midfield pocket.  

Lastly, Tinkler’s decision for SuperSport to ride their luck and take the Capetonians to penalties was a masterstroke. The longer the game had gone on, the more confident SuperSport grew and the 47-year-old would have been fully aware of Williams’ capabilities from the penalty spot.