Kaizer Chiefs 1-1 SuperSport United (3-5 pens): Matsatsantsa advance in the Nedbank Cup

South Africa missed out on a place in the 2018 World Cup finals, but Masinga refuses to blame Baxter for the team's failure

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South Africa missed out on a place in the 2018 World Cup finals, but Masinga refuses to blame Baxter for the team's failure

Penalties were needed as SuperSport United edged out Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium, on Saturday evening.

Both teams could not be separated after extra-time, after Jeremy Brockie’s strike was cancelled out by a late Ramahlwe Mphahlele header. SuperSport were looking to bounce in the Nedbank Cup as they made the short trip to Johannesburg. Going into the encounter, both teams had experienced contrasting fortunes. While the Amakhosi were flying high in their league campaign, Matsatsantsa’s season had stuttered of late.  Following an impressive 19-game unbeaten run, Stuart Baxter’s men suffered three successive league defeats, which included back to back loses in the Tshwane Derby.

Nonetheless, coach Baxter was targeting victory against his former employers. The British-born tactician, rang the changes as SuperSport welcomed back Thabo Mnyamane, who was suspended for the Tshwane side’s previous two encounters. The 24-year-old was brought in as a replacement for the injured Kingston Nkhatha.

Meanwhile, the Soweto giants were hoping to continue their impressive run, which has seen them undefeated in 2017, and despite the Glamour Boys being firmly in Premier Soccer League (PSL) title contention, they were hoping to challenge for cup glory.

Ahead of kick-off, Steve Komphela’s men were dealt a blow as veteran left Back Tsepo Masilela failed a late fitness test. Nonetheless, Komphela fielded his strongest possible starting XI against the Nedbank Cup defending champions. However, a notable exclusion to the Chiefs’ line-up was round of 16 hero, Gustavo Paez. The Venezuelan had to settle for a place on the bench, as Komphela opted for the experience of Bernard Parker.

The game promised to be a tight encounter as the last time the two sides met, it finished in a 1-1 draw. As expected the first half, was a rather uneventful affair as both teams were guilty of turning over possession far too often, making for a frustrating evening at the FNB Stadium.

Nevertheless, the match became a battle of attrition as both sides looked for the breakthrough. The battle in the middle of the park, between Dean Furman and Willard Katsande was an intriguing affair. While, both teams were defending resolutely, the attacking prowess left much to be desired. The first shot on goal came from SuperSport’s Mnyamane. But the winger fired his free kick well wide of Itumeleng Khune’s goal.

Chances were proving hard to come by, to the disappointment of the sparse crowd that were in attendance. Chiefs were looking to make use of their width, employing the pace of Joseph Molangoane on the right wing. However, SuperSport were typically organised and expertly neutralised the threat.

With half time fast approaching, neither goalkeeper was truly tested as both teams looked comfortable to move the ball around in their own half. In the 37th minute, SuperSport’s midfield general Reneilwe Letsholonyane, had a glorious opportunity to finally grab the opener, against his former team. The veteran found himself unmarked on the edge of the area but failed to capitalise on a splendid square ball, as his shot sailed over Khune’s goal.

Minutes later, Khune was forced into action as he did well to parry away Phala’s stinging shot, from an acute angle. Although, Chiefs attempted to create chances of their own, the SuperSport defence held firm as the sides went into the break deadlocked.

With the resumption of the second half, the home side looked to assert their authority early on. Siphiwe Tshabalala was on the receiving end of a delightful cross from Sibusiso Khumalo, but the 32-year-old failed to make contact with his header, as the ball went out for a goal kick.

With 53 minutes on the clock, SuperSport came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Mnyamane found himself clear on goal but Chiefs’ defender Lorenzo Gordinho recovered brilliantly as he made an excellent last ditch tackle, to deny the attacker.

Cracks were beginning to show in both defences, as Chiefs’s had a chance of their own. Parker latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the SuperSport box, but the 31-year-old’s shot went just wide of Reyaad Pieterse’s goal.

Mnyamane was SuperSport’s dangerman on the night and the Bafana Bafana international should have done better, with just over 20 minutes remaining in the clash. The attacker was denied by Khune from close range, as the score line remained level. 

Chiefs’ No 1. Was in fine form on the night as he superbly denied Jeremy Brockie’s header. But the New Zealander would not be denied in the 72nd minute. From the resultant corner an unmarked Brockie rifled home a left footed volley, past a stunned Khune.

In a last throw of the dice, Komphela brought on the dangerous Paez. Chiefs applied continuous pressure as they went in search of salvation, and in the 81st minute they were rewarded. Full-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele profited from a fantastic William Twala cross, as he powered his header home.

With the prospect of extra time looming, Brockie brought out the best in Khune. The 29-year-old keeper did well as he denied the SuperSport marksman’s low drive with his feet.

Extra-time was needed as neither side could find a winning goal, within the 90 minutes. The additional 30 minutes favoured Chiefs, who unlike SuperSport were not in action during midweek. Despite the advantage it was SuperSport who had the first real chance of the first half of extra-time. But Letsholonyane was well marshalled as he shot wide of the Chiefs’ goal, from inside the area. 

On the brink of half time, Chiefs were awarded a penalty after Dean Furman was adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own box. Parker stepped up but was denied by his former teammate, as Pieterse dived to his right, keeping SuperSport level as they went into the interval.

The final period of the second half was a far cagier affair. Both teams pushed for the elusive goal but the game was destined for the dreaded penalty shoot-out. After 120 minutes failed to separate the two sides, for the first time in the PSL era, a game between these two juggernauts, needed to settled on penalties.

George Maluleka was the villain on the night as his penalty rattled the woodwork and saw Chiefs bow out of the Nedbank Cup.

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