SuperSport ready for Mazembe challenge in CAF Confederation Cup second leg
South African side SuperSport United are full of confidence going into the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup final against Democratic Republic of Congo giants Tout Puissant Mazembe on Saturday night, even if it is the visitors who hold the advantage on the scoreboard.
Defending champions Mazembe head to Pretoria with a 2-1 lead after their home leg, a game in which SuperSport missed a host of chances, and were then lucky not to concede what appeared stonewall penalties on two occasions.
Perhaps that is a sign that despite trailing by a goal, the luck is with them and they certainly have enough in their locker to overturn the deficit.
SuperSport are aware of the significance of reaching a continental final for the first time in their history and having come this far, appear determined to finish the job.
SuperSport coach Eric Tinkler, who lost the 2015 final with Orlando Pirates, says lifting the Confederation Cup would be more of an achievement than winning the domestic Premier League given the hardships that his side have come up against on their travels.
"It's not an easy task," Tinkler told journalists [as per IOL]. "For me, it's much, much harder than trying to win the Absa Premiership if I must be honest when you look at everything that you have to go through.
"People don't truly appreciate the sacrifice that clubs make to play in this competition. It's expensive. Yes, the prize money is R17.8-million ($1.25-million) or whatever it is, but you can't forget what it has cost this club already to get this far.
"What I think that people also need to understand is that getting into a final of this nature is no easy task," he continued. "It's a massive, massive task.
"The players, the club and all South Africans should already be proud of what these boys have achieved, what Sundowns achieved last season [in winning the Champions League] and what Pirates achieved even though they lost in the finals."
Striker Jeremy Brockie, who has 10 goals in the competition so far and leads the scoring stakes, told reporters all of the players would feel a huge sense of achievement if they could lift the trophy.
"In terms of club career‚ winning this tournament would be right there at the top‚" he said, as reported by The Sowetan. "The only thing higher from a club point of view is winning the Champions League and going to the FIFA Club World Cup.
"This is the next best thing. We are close to it and we don't want to give it away. Hopefully come Saturday we will be celebrating with the fans and the country.
"It will be pretty special to end the campaign as the top goal scorer. In all competitions that I play I want to do well for my club and score goals," the New Zealand international continued. "I am not happy with just 10 goals and hopefully I will score one or two more to take the team over the line.
"When I first came to South Africa‚ I wanted to get into this tournament to test myself and we find ourselves in the final which is a very special feeling.
"It has been a rollercoaster ride and hopefully I will round it off by winning this trophy. These are types of competitions and trophies that you will remember as a player for the rest of your life."
SuperSport will have key midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane back from suspension, but Teboho Mokoena and forward Thabo Mnyamane remain injury doubts.
Mazembe coach Pamphile Mihayo admits that for his side it will be a holding job against a barrage of SuperSport pressure.
"On Saturday in Pretoria‚ SuperSport will be trying hard to score first. On our side‚ we will put a tactics in place to control them‚" Mihayo said, as per The Sowetan.
"We especially do not want to concede a goal in the first 15 minutes of the game. We hope to bring the cup home and to get there we must have the right tactics. We won the first leg‚ but there remains still a return of 90 minutes. We will fight to the end.
"Nothing is lost for us‚ I urge the Mazembe supporters and the Congolese to continue to hope. Thanks to their prayers‚ we will keep the title."