Tefu and Co on the cusp of glory

Pretoria News - - SPORTS & RACING - NJABULO NGIDI

TRIP that looked like just a for­mal­ity for Su­perS­port United be­fore they bowed out of the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup against a team that was un­beaten at home in the tour­na­ment, con­vinced Tefu Mashamaite that they can go all the way.

“Our trip to Zam­bia made me re­alise that maybe we can win this cup,” Mashamaite said from Pho­keng at the club’s tem­po­rary base as they prepare for the big­gest match in their his­tory.

“A lot of peo­ple didn’t give us a chance when we were go­ing up against a team (Zesco United in the quar­ter­fi­nals) that was un­beaten at home. A lot of peo­ple wrote us off af­ter the 0-0 draw at Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium,” Mashamaite re­mem­bers.

“But we used that to our ad­van­tage, we fought un­til the end and we ad­vanced to the semi­fi­nals. When Thuso Phala scored that goal in op­tional time (to tie the match at 2-2 in Ndola), I thought that maybe we can go all the way.”

They got fur­ther prove that this could be pre-or­dained as their year in the next round.

“The same hap­pened in Tu­nisia. When we went there to face Club Africain, no one gave us a chance af­ter we drew 1-1 at home against a team that was un­beaten in their back­yard. But we thrashed them.”

Mat­sat­santsa a Pi­tori’s com­mand­ing 3-1 win over Club Africain booked them a place in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal against the hold­ers TP Mazembe.

The Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo gi­ants host the first leg on Sun­day at 3.30pm South African time.

Mashamaite will start in cen­tral de­fence in place of the sus­pended Mor­gan Gould. But that’s noth­ing new to the vet­eran de­fender.

Su­perS­port used this tour­na­ment to help Mashamaite re­gain fit­ness from a knee in­jury in the qual­i­fy­ing rounds that in­cluded trips to Mada­gas­car, Su­dan and Liberia in the play­offs.

The club’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Stanley Mathews ad­mit­ted that the man­date at first was to test the club’s depth by field­ing a B-team in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup with the A-team still fight­ing for the lo­cal league ti­tle that they lost out on last sea­son. The “B –team” ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions and now Su­perS­port are on the brink of mak­ing club his­tory.

“It’s all about the minds-set, Su­perS­port and al­most every South African foot­ball club thrives in sit­u­a­tions where the coun­try isn’t ex­pect­ing much from them,” Mashamaite said. “It’s about mak­ing the most of that en­ergy. Bafana Bafana al­ways does well in matches when the coun­try doesn’t ex­pect much from them, which was the case against Nige­ria and Burk­ina Faso. We can be world beat­ers with the right mind-set. That’s how we won the Africa Cup of Na­tions in 1996. We were new to the in­ter­na­tional scene. No one ex­pected much from us. But we had the right mind-set and mo­ti­va­tion which is how we con­quered the con­ti­nent.”

Su­perS­port have spent the bet­ter part of this week in Rusten­burg to prepare for their trip to Lubum­bashi – us­ing the ar­ti­fi­cial pitch in Pho­keng and train­ing in the heat to prepare for what they will face on Sun­day. That camp in Rusten­burg gave the tech­ni­cal team some de­gree of prepa­ra­tion for the big­gest match in the club’s his­tory with Clay­ton Daniels, Ron­wen Wil­liams, Bradley Grob­ler, Dean Fur­man and Jeremy Brockie to meet up with their team a bit later due to their coun­try com­mit­ments.

A year ago Mamelodi Sun­downs con­quered the con­ti­nent in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League with lit­tle hope. Thus it makes this to be some­thing of a golden mo­ment for South African foot­ball – the first time that the coun­try has teams in the fi­nals of con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions backto-back.

“I don’t think that we can call our­selves the golden gen­er­a­tion, that’s up to you guys (the me­dia) and his­tory. The golden gen­er­a­tion of South African sport, foot­ball and rugby, was from 1995-1998. But peo­ple only re­alised that later. Maybe the same will hap­pen with Sun­downs and us. Peo­ple will re­alise later the sig­nif­i­cance of what we have done.”

CHAM­PI­ONS HUDDLE? Tefu Mashamaite­and his Su­pers­port United team­mates say prayers be­fore their train­ing ses­sion at the Royal Bafo­keng Sports Palace in prepa­ra­tion for the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal, first leg against hold­ers TP Mazembe of the DRC Pic­ture: Syd­ney Mahlangu/ BACKPAGEPIX

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.