SuperSport United are the champs

HOT PURSUIT Dean Furman of SuperSport United is challenged by Lehlohonolo Majoro of Cape Town City during the MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. Pictures: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
HOT PURSUIT Dean Furman of SuperSport United is challenged by Lehlohonolo Majoro of Cape Town City during the MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. Pictures: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Penalties or not – a win worthy of R8 million is still a victory worth celebrating.

This one will go down as the toughest but sweetest for new champions SuperSport United after playing for more than 40 minutes with 10 men.

They literally laboured to be the last team standing and have goalkeeper Ronwen Williams to thank for this victory.

Williams saved two spot kicks from Lyle Lakay and Judas Moseamedi to give his side the advantage and the first prize.

As for Cape Town City and their coach Benni McCarthy, it was a case of so near yet so far after leading for the better part of the game, only to let it slip away in the end.

The R800 000 prize they will get will not be any consolation after going all the way to the final, only to earn the same money as the other six teams who lost earlier in the tournament.

It was a sweet victory for Eric Tinkler, who left City for United earlier in the season.

Moreover, it was sweet revenge for United, who lost to the same City in the Telkom Knockout final last season.

It was an evenly balanced game, with both sides showing their intentions of winning early on.

Knowing that they only had one chance to claim the R8 million jackpot, both sets of players showed they wanted it, but were let down by poor decision making and indecisiveness in front of goals.

While United asked all the right questions in front of goals, the Citizens knocked once in front of Williams’ goals and found the correct pin code as Masina opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, against the run of play.

United, who had six corners in the opening half, but failed to make them count, were stunned and needed to respond. However, they still could not unlock City’s rear-guard, which was well marshalled by captain Robyn Johannes.

It was the influence of veteran Teko Modise in the middle of park which gave City more power going forward as he orchestrated most of their attacks.

In fact, it was a battle of the veterans in the midfield, with United’s Reneilwe Letsholonyane doing the same for his side.

Unfortunately, the two veterans did not finish the game after their respective coaches ejected them.

After knocking for so long, something had to give for United and they duly levelled matters through substitute Thabo Mnyamane’s goal.

Unfortunately that happened to be his last piece of action of the game, as he was stretchered off with what looked like a groin injury.

He did not even have the chance to celebrate his goal.

This meant United had to see out the entire game with 10 men.

They had already exhausted their substitution quota when Mnyamane got injured. This gave City the advantage and they pushed hard for the winning goal.

But United soldiered on, until referee Daniel Bennett brought proceedings to and end after 90 minutes.

There were however another 30 minutes of extra time to contend with, as the two teams could not be separated.

It was the hardest extra time, particularly for United, who had more players pulling their muscles.

The field looked like a hospital ward as players went down one after another complaining of strained muscles.

Or was it part of delaying tactics as they wanted to take the steam out of City?

It seemed to work in the end and they hung on for dear life until the final whistle, sending the game to penalty shoot outs.

It was worthy of a final, as both teams gave their all.

In the end there could only be one champion – United – who have now lifted back-to-back trophies after winning the Nedbank Cup in June – at the same venue.

SuperSport United win 4-2 on penalties

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