Zesco thwart Su­per­Sport in Con­fed Cup

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT&RACING - NJABULO NGIDI

Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium

Su­per­Sport United 0 Zesco United 0

MATSATSANTSA a Pi­tori will have to do what no team has done this year in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup if they are to ad­vance to the semi-finals after be­ing held to a goal­less draw.

That is to ei­ther beat Zesco United at Levy Mwanawasa Sta­dium on Satur­day or play to a draw with goals.

The pos­i­tive for Matsatsantsa from this first leg quar­ter-fi­nal is that they didn’t give Zesco an away goal.

The vis­i­tors didn’t ex­actly search for that goal fran­ti­cally. Keep­ing Su­per­Sport away from scor­ing was their main ob­jec­tive and they did that.

Now they will look to turn on the magic that saw them win all their games in Ndola in this tour­na­ment to make it a suc­ces­sive of semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ances in CAF com­pe­ti­tions after also reach­ing the last four of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League last year.

Su­per­Sport coach Eric Tin­kler stood like a head­mas­ter in the Su­per­Sport tech­ni­cal area in his grey suit, hold­ing a clip­board that had the notes he fu­ri­ously wrote with each bad de­ci­sion and bad pass from his team. There were plenty of those. Su­per­Sport strug­gled to break down a dis­ci­plined Zesco de­fence that frus­trated the hosts with their tenac­ity and the large num­bers they quickly put be­hind the ball.

This was a low-key wel­come for Tin­kler to the tour­na­ment he al­most won with Or­lando Pirates two years ago, los­ing in the fi­nal to Tu­nisian gi­ants Etoile du Sa­hel.

But this time around he only started in the quar­ter­fi­nals after Stuart Bax­ter and mainly Kai­tano Tembo guided the team through the quali- fy­ing rounds and the group stage.

In those matches, es­pe­cially the group stage, Su­per­Sport only won one of their home matches but were strong on the road – scor­ing seven goals in three matches.

Last night they lost the bat­tle in the stands hands down. Zesco fans were more colour­ful and louder than their Su­per­Sport coun­ter­parts.

It was ap­pro­pri­ate that the Zam­bians oc­cu­pied the grandstand as they looked and sounded like the home fans.

On the field, Reneilwe Let­sholonyane was at home – boss­ing the mid­field and spray­ing passes at will.

“Yeye” was only let down by the peo­ple on the re­ceiv­ing end of his passes, es­pe­cially Bradley Grob­ler who started on a shaky foot.

This south­ern Africa derby was played in a friendly spirit de­spite the com­pet­i­tive­ness that ex­ists be­tween South Africa and Zam­bia – the only na­tions in the Cosafa re­gion with an Africa Cup of Na­tions crown.

But that friendly spirit masked a dis­ap­point­ing out­ing for the fans who had to en­ter­tain them­selves with nei­ther of the goal­keep­ers tested.

The sec­ond leg is likely to be a more open af­fair as Zesco need a goal to take con­trol of the match and any re­sponse with a goal for Matsatsantsa will put them in a com­fort­able po­si­tion.

Su­per­Sport’s prob­lem was that they didn’t take this match by the scruff of its neck.

Thuso Phala tried to do that early in the match but his fire was quickly ex­tin­guished by an orange brick wall that stood in front of him.

Phala and com­pany will need to be more in­ven­tive in Ndola if they are to con­tinue their con­ti­nen­tal jour­ney that started with test­ing the club’s depth by field­ing fringe play­ers in the earlier rounds.

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