Mnyamane late goal gives United hope against CAF opponents Club Africain
Thabo Mnyamane scored late in the game to hand SuperSport United’s hopes of continental club competition success a lifeline after they drew 1-1 with Club Africain of Tunisia at home in Atteridgeville in the first leg of the African Confederation Cup semifinal.
The disappointing stalemate still leaves the South Africans on the back foot as they travel later this month away for the return leg, looking for a place in the final.
Sabeur Khalifa, the former Olympique Marseille striker, slotted home a spot kick awarded after Dean Furman’s clearance hit Morgan Gould on the hand to give the visitors the lead in the21st minute.
But the referee returned the favour just three minutes from the end when Oussama Darragi blocked Thuso Phala’s shot with his hand.
Mnyamane’s initial kick was saved by Club Africain goalkeeper Atef Dkhili but he could not hold onto the ball and Mnyamane put away the rebound to the relief of him and his teammates.
The initial penalty was massive dollop of good fortune for the Tunisians, who rarely ventured into the SuperSport penalty area and spent much of their game delaying with displays of gamesmanship and will be headed home hardly believing their luck.
But SuperSport’s wastefulness in front of goal was the real reason for the failure to establish a decent advantage for the second leg, where they will have to score if they are to advance.
Bradley Grobler and Jeremy Brockie missed good chances, others tried long range efforts without getting them on target and the overall decision-making left much to be desired.
Khalifa had the first opportunity of the game just 80 seconds after the kick off as SuperSport’s had five men chasing the ball in their own penalty area but still failed to block a pass that found the Club Africain’s skipper, who then lifted the ball over the bat with a side footed shot to the relief of the small home crowd.
In the third minute, Grobler then missed with a goal yawning in front of him after Phala’s square cross was cleverly dummied by Brockie. It seemed easier to score than miss from that range.
Brockie had two chances inside two minutes soon thereafter but first shot wide and then headed over the top from a static position
Then came the errant clearance that saw Seychelles referee Bernard Camille award a first penalty. This was the same official in charge of that infamous game in Lubumbashi four years ago when Orlando Pirates were repeatedly cheated but still proved stubborn enough to advance in the African Champions League at the expense of TP Mazembe.
After half-time, Reneilwe Letsholonyane was on target with a stinging effort before SuperSport had a free kick on the edge of the area that Dkhili’s pushed around the corner.
Furman was just wide in the 82nd minute with a long range effort before Supersport were awarded their spot kick.
In the last minutes both substitute Kingstone Nkatha and Phala missed chances as Club Africain’s defence lost its shape and Dove Wome’s wild shot well over the top summed up that shooting practice is badly needed on their training ground.
The second leg will be played in Tunisia on the weekend of October 20-22. The exact date, venue and kick off time must still be determined by the Confederation of African Football.