SuperSport United book place in MTN8 semifinal but made to sweat by gallant TTM
It should not have been this nerve-racking for SuperSport United as they were made to fight for their 3-2 win over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in the MTN quarterfinal at Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday.
They comfortably led 3-0 after 33 minutes through goals by Bradley Grobler, Iqraam Rayners and Ghampani Lungu but allowed Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) to claw their way back.
When Lungu scored the third goal after the half-hour mark, United were in complete control of this MTN8 quarterfinal match but TTM fought back in the second half to leave the match on a knife’s edge in the closing stages.
United were expected to walk over this rookie TTM side who were in disarray as they arrived at Thohoyandou Stadium with only 14 players in their match-day squad, including a goalkeeper and two outfield players on the substitutes' bench.
Such was the dire situation for TTM coach Joel Masutha that he made his only change after 78 minutes when Edgar Manaka replaced clearly tired Mogakolodi Ngele but they gave an all-round solid team performance in their first outing in the paid ranks.
TTM’s fight back was mastered by Ngele shortly before half time and he registered his brace before the hour mark but they could not find another goal as United held on to book a place in the semifinal.
United opened the scoring when Grobler pounced home from close range after he connected with a delivery from Lungu from the right wing.
United could have easily increased their lead shortly but debutant Iqraam Rayners ballooned the ball over the crossbar. But he got it right a few minutes later with a delightful long ranger that flew past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo.
United took firm control of the match when Lungu got the better of TTM defender Brandon Theron inside the penalty box before he beat Mhlongo just after the half-hour mark.
On the stroke of half time, TTM pulled one back through a thunderous left-footed shot by Ngele.
Ngele dragged TTM back into the game with a close-range header but they could not find another goal to equalise and force extra time or even penalties.
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (1) 2
SuperSport United (3) 3
Scorers: Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila — Mogakolodi Ngele (44 mins and 56 mins) SuperSport United — Bradley Grobler (8 mins), Iqraam Rayners (28 mins), Ghampani Lungu (33 mins)