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SuperSport are perfectly perched


The Pretoria giants got their campaign off to a flying start after winning the most rewarding domestic cup competition of the season, the MTN8.

SuperSport United’s chase for championship glory may have endured setbacks in recent months but with a number of interesting duels between the rest of the title contenders still to come, there’s no writing them off just yet.

Matsantsantsa a Pitori are third on the Absa Premiership standings with 40 points, eight behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs who have two games in hand. Sure, it will be a big ask for SuperSport to close in on Amakhosi but they can only play their part – by winning their remaining six matches.

SuperSport’s fate may not be in their hands but there’s just so much to be proud of this season – considering they have already secured a winners’ medal.

Their season in a nutshell:

The Pretoria giants got their campaign off to a flying start after winning the most rewarding domestic cup competition of the season, the MTN8.

That triumph was supposed to bring an ample boost to their season especially with a squad that’s blended around experience and youth.

However, not all has gone according to plan – especially in the league. The team from the nation’s capital has blown hot and cold, subsequently dropping unnecessary points along the way, something that has further hindered their progress.

There’s a number of reasons to their blemishes, but inconsistency is top of the list.

Striker Thamsanqa Gabuza started life at the club like a house on fire but his form depreciated – forcing partner Bradley Grobler to solely carry the scoring responsibilities.

Nonetheless, with the third highest scoring rate and goal difference, coach Kaitano Tembo can be proud of his troops contribution – especially having come under the circumstances of having new members and young gems join the team.

A championship medal could very well be out of sight but winning their second MTN8 crown after three successive final appearances deserves the plaudits. It is more reason why Matsantsantsa a Pitori are slowly rebranding themselves as cup specialists.

Coach’s tactics:

Kaitano Tembo’s rise to prominence has won the hearts of many in domestic football this season.

When SuperSport were crowned MTN8 champions last year in October, his players spoke with one voice: “We wanted to do it for the coach”.

Such is Tembo’s tactical acumen that it’s also been relatively easy for academy graduates to fit in like a glove in his set-up. A season ago, Sipho Mbule was just “another squad member” but the 22-year has been a cog in the team’s engine room, together with Teboho Mokoena.

The fruits of the Mokoena and Mbule’s labour have been seen under Bradley Grobler who’s on double digits this season with 12 league goals, two behind Orlando Pirates’ and league’s top goal scorer Gabadinho Mhango.

What they have done right – strengths:

Togetherness. SuperSport have pulled in one direction this season. Sure, Grobler may lead the team’s scoring charts but most of their goals have come from anyone, having scored on both dead-ball situations and open play.

Bafana Bafana’s No 1 Ronwen Williams has been superb between the sticks. Such that it was appeasing on the eye when the club slapped him with a four-and-a-half year contract extension, something that would have at least kept him at SuperSport for almost two decades.

But such has been the astute leadership of chief executive Stan Matthews that he’s rewarded a number of playing personnel and technical team stuff that have served the club with distinction during their respective stints.

There has been a huge chunk of development graduates that have rose to the occasion in the top-flight football this season. Such that the maturity of Jamie Webber, Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena and Luke Fleurs has also been pivotal for the respective junior national teams.

What they have done wrong – weaknesses:

Inconsistency. Had it not been for dropping points in matches they should have easily won; SuperSport would still have their fate in their own hands.

But they’ve been casual and negligent, that their wins over fellow title contenders Bidvest Wits, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, could become null and void.

Tembo has almost bemoaned how certain individuals fail to string together consistent performances week-in and week-out. This is something that has made the team to be predictable at times, especially against opponents in the bottom-half.

Key player: Bradley Grobler

Grobler’s scoring spree – 15 goals in 27 domestic appearances this season – has been the fuel that has driven the team to silverware and a continental football qualifying position so far.

The 32-year striker, who’s been troubled with injuries in the past, is enjoying his football again. For his exploits he returned to the Bafana Bafana set-up after receiving call-ups for the last four 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Remaining matches:

Away: vs Bloemfontein Celtic, Polokwane City and Baroka FC

Home: vs Black Leopards, Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City



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