Absa Premiership

SuperSport bank on 'incredible' spirit in final

2017-11-24 08:33
Jeremy Brockie (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - SuperSport United hope "incredible" camaraderie and smooth preparations will culminate on Saturday in them becoming the first South African club to lift the CAF Confederation Cup.

The Pretoria outfit enter the second leg of the final at Lucas 'Masterpieces' Moripe Stadium trailing 2-1 against title-holders TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mazembe are seeking an 11th CAF title and SuperSport a first in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

Apart from the joy that winning a final brings, the teams will be battling to pocket a record $1.25 million first prize.

SuperSport captain and midfielder Dean Furman told reporters that preparations for the first leg in southern Congolese city Lubumbashi last Sunday were a "logistical nightmare".

Star striker Jeremy Brockie, the Confederation Cup leading scorer this season with 10 goals, dashed across seven times zones to DR Congo after playing for New Zealand in Peru.

Another four SuperSport players were also involved in tiring flights after World Cup qualifiers, having flown with South Africa to Senegal.

A further blow for the South African club was a six-hour delay in leaving Johannesburg for Lubumbashi, reducing their training on an unfamiliar artificial pitch to one session.

Weary Brockie was substituted early in the second half and tired SuperSport defended desperately in the closing stages as Mazembe sought a third goal.

"I believe we will be a lot stronger in the return match because our preparations have been much smoother and everyone is well rested," said Furman.

He and Brockie said a CAF campaign that has taken them to Madagascar, Sudan, Liberia, Gabon, DR Congo twice, Guinea, Zambia and Tunisia fostered amazing team spirit.

"When you look at the team-mate closest to you, you know you can rely on him. We built incredible camaraderie flying around Africa," said Furman.

"The Confederation Cup has brought us closer together off the pitch and enhanced our never-say-die attitude on it."

New Zealander Brockie said: "There are a lot of experienced players in the team who know how to carry us through difficult situations."

Mazembe coach Pamphile Mihayo has ruled out trying to defend the narrow lead at a venue SuperSport share with 2016 CAF Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns.

"That would invite unnecessary pressure on our defence so we have created a plan that hopefully brings us another victory in the second leg.

"SuperSport are a good team and not easy to break down, but we need an away goal to cancel the one they scored in Lubumbashi."

The second leg will be the fourth Confederation Cup meeting between the sides this season after two group-stage draws.

A 2-2 thriller in DR Congo last June, in which SuperSport came from two goals behind, was followed by a boring, virtually chance-less 0-0 stalemate in Pretoria.

History favours United as the three previous clubs to lose first legs by one goal in Confederation Cup finals all emerged winners on aggregate.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Free State Stars v SuperSport United, Goble Park 19:30
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