SuperSport brimming with confidence

Stuart Baxter coach of Supersport United (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix)

Stuart Baxter coach of Supersport United (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix)

SuperSport United are brimming with confidence after reaching a second cup final in the space of a few months, edging out Orlando Pirates 1-0 in the Telkom Knockout semifinals at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night.

Thabo Mnyamane’s strike was enough for Stuart Baxter’s side to set up a meeting with Cape Town City, who hammered Free State Stars 4-1 in the other semifinal. SuperSport have to be favourites to capture another trophy, following their Nedbank Cup victory in May.

After losing their first two matches of the season, SuperSport are now on a 12-game unbeaten run. They did well in Nelspruit to add to their 6-1 league hammering of Orlando Pirates on November 1 and complete another win, albeit in a far tighter affair.

“The preparation for this game was difficult. When you come after a result like 6-1, the coach has a problem because he has to try and get everybody’s mind off that,” said Baxter.

“We knew Pirates would be different, their mentality would be different, you could see by their body language right from the start that they were going to try and win the game the Pirates way: it was going to be tackles, whipped crosses in, runs around the box, quick possession. I was really pleased therefore with our approach in the first 20 minutes, everybody could see it was going to be an end-to-end game.

“We sat and they put the foot to the floor so we had to defend for long periods. If we had had better quality in the final third, maybe we wouldn’t have had to defend so much. Pirates did well and we defended well and I was really pleased – the lads kept their shape and balance and their commitment to defend their goal was excellent,” said Baxter.

Pirates’ interim coach Augusto Palacios, who suffered his first defeat in charge, reflected that his team had been beaten despite dominating possession.

“We controlled the game for 90 minutes,” said Palacios, “but controlling the game and ball possession will not give you the win, you must score the goals.”

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