JOHANNESBURG – It might be the same script but that doesn’t mean the story will be identical. SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo made that argument, dismissing claims that history will favour them in the second leg of the MTN8 semi-finals.
In his suggestion, though, Tembo is almost defying the odds. The champions are chasing their fourth successive MTN8 cup final, while they also lost the tournament two seasons ago at the hands of Cape Town City.
Their route to the final in the last two seasons has been almost identical. Two seasons ago, they drew 2-2 with Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals at home in the first leg, but they wrapped up the contest by winning 1-0 away in the return leg, Amakhosi’s two away goals notwithstanding.
Last season, they drew 1-1 with rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the semi-finals at home, before reaching the final after a 2-0 win away in the second leg. Again, Sundowns’ away goal proved to be worth nothing.
As Matsatsantsa a Pitori are set to clash with Bloemfontein Celtic away in the return leg of the Wafa Wafa competition, at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium this afternoon (3.30pm), they find themselves on familiar ground as they are the disadvantaged side having drawn 1-1 with the latter at home.
Phunya SeleSele have an away goal cushion, just like previous counterparts, but Tembo is not banking on history to repeat itself. Instead he believes that the team from the City of Roses will pose a different challenge in the game altogether.
“Last time around we drew 2-2 with Chiefs and went on to win 1-0 at FNB (Stadium). Last season we also drew against Sundowns 1-1 and we went to win the second leg 2-0,” the Zimbabwean coach recalled. “But this is a different game against a different opponent. They are an opponent that is motivated.”
Given playing against Celtic may not be as self-motivating as playing either Chiefs or Sundowns for SuperSport players, but you can still bet on the current champions to be equal to the task, especially knowing what it will take to turn the contest on its head.
“We are in a situation where we have to try and go there and get a goal. But at the same time, we need to manage the game and not be under pressure. We need to play our normal game. Luckily, we’ve got players that can manage the game,” Tembo said.
For Phunya SeleSele, though, the mandate is clear: keep a clean sheet and you’ll be on your way to a second successive cup competition final, either against Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs, after being the losing finalist to Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup last term.