Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

SuperSport, Sekhukhune to fly Mzansi flag in CAF Cup second round

- HERMAN GIBBS herman.gibbs@gmail.com

LOCAL Premiershi­p sides SuperSport United and Sekhukhune United will make their bow in the CAF Confederat­ion Cup today after they were spared from first-round action earlier on.

SuperSport enjoyed a first-round bye and Sekhukhune’s opponents, eSwatini outfit Young Buffaloes, withdrew because of financial constraint­s.

Hence, the two clubs will start in Africa’s second-tier club competitio­n with the second preliminar­y round first-leg fixtures.

Determined Sekhukhune will host DR Congo visitors FC Saint-Éloi Lupopo at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane at 5pm and SuperSport will play Gaborone United at the Botswana National Stadium in Gaborone at 7pm.

Because of the internatio­nal window, Sekhukhune has had little action over the past three weeks, while their opponents have played twice this month and racked as many wins with clean sheets in domestic competitio­n.

Brandon Truter, Sekhukhune’s coach, said his players were excited to play on the continenta­l stage.

“There has been excitement and a buzz around the team this week,” said Truter.

“This game is an interestin­g one since it is the club’s debut in a CAF competitio­n.

“We can now test our strength outside the borders of our country. New opposition brings new tactics and new challenges.

“Since we are at home, we want to be on the front foot, get the result, and take it to Congo (for the return leg).

“This match will allow us to give one or two players a chance to play against unknown opposition.

“We have not won our previous two home matches, so we would like to get a positive result on Saturday. It will build the confidence going into our next game.

“We are nursing fatigue and a few niggles from our internatio­nals who came back from the national teams. It’s an interestin­g game to look forward to, but it’s one we want to win.”

SuperSport will have a few seasoned campaigner­s in their ranks and that should help the team to secure a first-leg win.

One of them is Zimbabwean goalkeeper Washington Arubi, who was in the Marumo Gallants team which reached the Confederat­ion Cup semi-finals last season.

Arubi said he and Onismor Bhasera, together with Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo, will provide the experience to help the team set up a first-leg advantage.

“Having experience­d guys like Onismor Bhasera, captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and myself, who have played in Africa before, is a plus,” said Arubi.

“It is a confidence booster for the rookies because they know they are not alone; we are going there to fight as a team.

“I’m sure that’s an advantage for the team, to use my experience and that of others to get a positive result after 90 minutes.

“Remember, SuperSport is not a small team though we have players who are playing on the continent for the first time. Starting with an away fixture is not easy but the rookies are excited, and the mood is 100% positive.

“Playing away from home is not easy. You are away from your fans. The travelling and change of climate are not to our advantage.

“We must adapt to the environmen­t and that can be a challenge, especially for players who have not played elsewhere on the continent.

Arubi said the fixture was not only about SuperSport United: “Together with our Premiershi­p mates Sekhukhune, we are also representi­ng South Africa.”

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