Mazembe beat SuperSport to claim Caf Confederation Cup

SuperSport United"s defender Siyabonga Nhlapo (L) vies with TP Mazembe's midfielder and captain Rainford Kalaba during the last final match of the CAF Confederation trophy at Lucas Moripe stadium in Atteridgeville on November 25, 2017 in Pretoria.
SuperSport United"s defender Siyabonga Nhlapo (L) vies with TP Mazembe's midfielder and captain Rainford Kalaba during the last final match of the CAF Confederation trophy at Lucas Moripe stadium in Atteridgeville on November 25, 2017 in Pretoria.
Image: AFP/PHILL MAGAKOE

Tout Puissant Mazembe put up a resolute defensive display to shut out SuperSport United 0-0 in the second leg of the Caf Confederation Cup final at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday night and defend their 2016 trophy.

SuperSport were faced with a polished, organised and highly committed defensive display by the vastly more experienced team from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are five-time Caf Champions League winners.

First-time continental finalists Matsatsantsa could not get their midfield or attack into any sort of consistent rhythm to trouble Mazembe enough to come back from the 2-1 first-leg deficit, and that was the aggregate scoreline that TP won by.

Needing just a goal for a 1-0 second-leg win that would have seen SuperSport crowned the champions on the away goals rule, the Pretoria team failed to find the movement in their frontline that had so troubled TP in Lubumbashi on Sunday.

A decent, 10 000 or so home supporters responded to SuperSport's free entry for a blue shirt, not bad for a club with a small support base, on a wet and cold night.

They were pitted against a vocal some-5 000 supporters for Mazembe from Gauteng's big DRC immigrant community.

The final whistle sparked wild celebrations on the field from 2010 Club World Cup finalists Mazembe, and in the stands from their supporters.

SuperSport coach Eric Tinkler had Reneilwe Letsholonyane back from suspension to partner Dean Furman in his central midfield in his only change from the first leg. Tinkler opted to retain teen Sipho Mbule, whose long-range scorcher kept Matsatsantsa in the tie, as a third central midfielder, with Dove Wome relegated to the bench.

Mazembe counterpart Pamphile Mihayo brought big Ivorian Sylvain Gbohouo back in goal for Ley Matampi in one of three changes. Zola Kiaku replaced Jean Kasusula at left-back and Koffi Kouame came into midfield for Chico Ushindi.

SuperSport, on the night, just did not have the firepower in their front runners to break Mazembe down, nor did Tinkler have the ammunition to come off his bench and break the stalemate that suited the visitors.

Mazembe, knowing that an early goal for them could kill the game, came out fired up and running at the SuperSport back four.

They gave the home team some early scares. Nathan Sinkala cracked one high from range. Rainford Kalaba was through one-on-one with Ronwen Williams and got his foot under the attempted finish, striking over the bar.

Kalaba then beat Siyabonga Nhlapo down the left and squared for Daniel Adjei, who scooped an attempted finish wide of the upright.

SuperSport gained their composure and began to play on the front foot, but either could not penetrate a crunching Mazembe defence, or the ball would just not quite fall the Pretoria team's way in the box.

Centreback Tefu Mashamaite had the ball in from a header, but was ruled narrowly offside.

From a Thuso Phala corner early in the second half Clayton Daniels got the touch on and this time Mashamaite could not connect at the far post.

Letsholonyane's pass from the middle picked out Aubrey Modiba free to canter down the left, who shot two feet high.

SuperSport, though, were largely struggling to get behind Mazembe down the wings, or centrally, as the DRC club were increasingly content to sit deep and absorb.

When the home team did, they looked dangerous, such as when Phala was played down the right in the 69th then saw his cross fall to Wome, on for Jeremy Brockie moments earlier, who forced the first real save from Gbohouo.

But the chances, considering how many are needed for South African clubs to find the back of the net, came far too sparsely for SuperSport to breach Mazembe.

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