Matthews knows a bit about building a club, having been at SuperSport for almost 20 years, bar a very short stint at the Premier Soccer League, and his passion for Matsatsantsa is a major reason that they are among the top teams in the country these days.
SuperSport have reached 10 major cup finals since 2011, one of which is Saturday’s MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where they will play Benni McCarthy’s City for the second-successive season. SuperSport won that game in 2017, but City beat SuperSport in the 2016 Telkom Knockout final, in their first season in existence after buying the MP Black Aces franchise.
“I have a lot of respect for them, in terms of what they have done in a short space of time building the brand, bringing quality to the local market and representing Cape Town well,” said Matthews.
“They beat us convincingly in the opening game of the season, though I thought we also should have had a penalty in that game.”
City did indeed beat SuperSport 2-0 in the Mother City on August 4, but it is SuperSport who have had the far better season overall. A 4-0 thumping of Black Leopards on Sunday has set Kaitano Tembo’s side up perfectly.
SuperSport have won four league games and are just two points off the top of the Absa Premiership, while City have won just once in the league all season, a stark contrast to their cup form.
Matthews says that part of SuperSport’s focus this season was to do better in the league – they have tended to underachieve in the Premiership despite all their cup success. SuperSport battled relegation for much of last season, even though they won the MTN8 and reached the Caf Confederation Cup final.
“I think there has been a fundamental shift in our approach,” said Matthews.
“Unashamedly over the last six years our priority has been the cups, because we had no strength in depth, the Confederation Cup showed up that frailty most glaringly … we took our eye off the ball.
“We haven’t finished higher than fifth in the league in the last five years and that is not reflective of this club in the last decade.”