Kaitano Tembo embodied the MTN8 tag-line of “last man standing” as he did not sit down even once in the entire 90 minutes of the MTN8 final as he barked orders and instructions to his players from the touchline to make sure that SuperSport United clinched the MTN8 crown for the second time in three seasons.
Tembo claimed his maiden cup as a head coach when he led the capital city-based side to a hard fought 1-0 win over Highlands Park on Saturday evening at the Orlando Stadium – a venue otherwise known as the spiritual home of South African football.
It was Bradley Grobler who scored the sole goal in stoppage time of the first-half when he pounced on a Teboho Mokoena cross from the right wing to head Matsatsantsa A Pitori into the lead, and scored what turned out to be the decider. The Bafaan Bafana international bagged himself a cool R25 000 for beating Highlands goal-minder Thela Ngobeni as MTN rewarded each scorer with a quarter of a million.
However, the first bit of real action came as so as the third minute from Highlands’ mainstay Mothoi Mvala. The 25year-old midfielder struck a shot with a lot of venom but SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was wide awake and palmed the ball away to safety.
The Lions of the North striker Peter Shaulile came close to bagging himself R25 000 for himself and on the bigger scheme of things, level matters for Highlands. Da Gama’s side surged forward in the 54th minute with Mokeke Mogalila leading the attack with his blistering pace. He played a cross into the box that was headed by Ryan Rae and saved by Williams before Shaulile found the cross-bar on the rebound.
Owen Da Gama was forced into making an early substitution just after 30 minutes from the start when Lesenya Ramoraka looked to have slightly stretched his hamstring as he walked off the pitch holding the back of his thigh. Wayde Jooste was the man sent on and he slotted on the left flank of midfield.
In the second stanza, Da Gama opted for experienced and bolstered his attacking arsenal with the introduction of veteran striker Tendai Ndoro just after the hour mark. The former Orlando Pirates forward joined Shaulile up front and the Lions of the North and they looked a lot more lethal than they did in the first hour.
Highlands supporters put some amount of pressure on Da Gama to thrown new signing and former United man Reneilwe “Yeye” Letsholonyane and the man popularly known as “ODG” succumbed to the pressure from the gallery and handed Letsholonyane his debut as he came on for skipper Luckyboy Mokoena in the final 10 minutes.
However, the former Kaizer Chiefs midfield maestro could not do much to influence the game in his side’s favour as United held on to clinch the title and the 37-year-old watched his former employers lift the title as he walked away with a silver medal like last season.