Hunt: Hell of a performance
Gavin Hunt (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt was full of praise for his charges after their stunning 2-0 Nedbank Cup final win over Tshwane neighbours, Mamelodi Sundowns, at Orlando Stadium on the weekend.
"We played very well today, especially in the first half," Hunt said after the match.
"I've always said we've got huge heart and determination.
"In all we deserved victory today (Saturday)."
United's third competition title came courtesy of Thabo September and Kermit Erasmus who struck in each half, while the more fancied Sundowns struggled for fluidity.
The Brazilians' impetus was also hampered by the early sending off of defender Clayton Daniels, allowing United to take full advantage on the situation.
"Sometimes teams raise their games when they go a man down," said Hunt.
"But from our side, it was a hell of a performance."
Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens conceded that they made the victory "too easy" for their archrivals, who also beat them in the league two weeks ago and eliminated them from title contention.
The Chloorkop-based outfit had a dour second half of the season after a promising start to their campaign in the Dutch legend's first year in charge.
"We wanted to play a good final but, unfortunately, after 20 minutes, it was a totally different game with the Daniels's red card," said Neeskens.
"We gave our best, but it was too easy for SuperSport.
"I was hoping that we would do things differently but we have to accept that this is football."
For United, the trophy was also a fitting farewell to a few of their players who had formed the nucleus of the team, including captain Morgan Gould and the versatile Tebogo Langerman.
Gould is expected to join Kaizer Chiefs, while Langerman has officially crossed town to Sundowns, in a deal which saw Franklin Cale move to United in January.
However, Hunt expected to retain influential veteran Sibusiso Zuma for another season.
"We are meeting (with management) on Monday to map the way forward," said Hunt.
"It's not easy when you lose your centre-back and your left-back.
"Candidates for next season have been identified, but it's obviously difficult to get players on the market."
SuperSport's victory means they will compete in next year's CAF Confederation Cup - a situation that Hunt marked as vital for the team.
"We have got to play in Africa, that is where the ultimate is," Hunt said.
"It's also vital for me as a coach. That is where I want to be.
"We got to the quarter-finals of the Confed Cup the last time we were in it and lost to FUS Rabat (from Morocco in 2010), who went on to win the trophy."
Meanwhile, Neeskens expected to return to Sundowns next season despite the big-spending club suffering another fruitless year.
"My first year, players adapted to a new system and saw improvements," Neeskens said.
"Football is decided with goals and we showed this in the first half of season - it doesn't mean we played badly in second part.
"We had opportunities to score and if you don't, then you won't win games.
"It's now four years without winning anything, but the effort this season? I cannot complain about it."