By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
SUPERSPORTS United and AmaZulu are the first two clubs from the Premiership to have booked their place in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.
This after the two sides claimed a 3-1 and 5-0 victories against Golden Arrows and Real Madrid during yesterday’s last 32 matches.
This was the first time that SuperSport advanced to the last 16 round of the competition since 2007 while AmaZulu reached the final match last season which they lost 3-0 to BidVest Wits.
Matsatsantsa A Pitori however had to sweat through to the extra-time before they could emerged victors after the match ended in a 1-1 draw after regulated time. Kermit Erasmus and Nhlanhla Zothwane scored for both side.
Dipsy Selolwane scored a screamer 20 minutes into extra time before Anthony Laffor could hammer the last nail on top of Arrows’ coffin to hand Matsatsantsa a deserved 3-1 victory.
SuperSport made just two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Platinum Stars in a league game on the weekend, with Jabu Maluleke and Dipsy Selolwane making way for Kermit Erasmus and Thandani Ntshumayelo.
Arrows made no less than six changes to the starting XI that lost 3-2 to Mamelodi Sundowns, the most notable of which saw goalkeeper Siphamandla Ntombela make his debut, while Mlungiseni Masinga and Msekeli Mvalo were handed rare starts in central defence.
SuperSport left-winger Tebogo Langerman had three good chances in the opening 11 minutes, none of which he was able to capitalise on. His best opportunity arrived in the ninth minute when Siphamandla Ntombela nervously parried a cross from Anthony Laffor into Langerman’s path, but the youngster put his shot over the crossbar.
Arrows’ re-jigged defence looked ill at ease in the opening stages of the game and Kermit Erasmus duly took advantage. He first tested the waters in the 14th minute with a stinging long range drive that went just over the crossbar, and less than a minute later he carved the visitors’ backline open with a surging run and finished the chance with aplomb to make it 1-0 to United.
Matsatsantsa goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez has a couple of career goals to his name from his time with Kaizer Chiefs, and he very nearly added a freak goal to his tally in the 25th minute with a long clearance that caught out Ntombela with a steep bounce off the hard playing surface. Luckily for the rookie ‘keeper, the ball rebounded harmlessly off the crossbar.
Arrows had hardly figured as an attacking force, but in the 27th minute they were rewarded a soft penalty when Thamsanqa Gabuza tumbled in the box after a nudge in the back from Morgan Gould. Midfielder Nhlanhla Zothwane emphatically converted the spot kick to make it 1-1 just before the half hour mark.
Matsatsantsa really bossed the game in the second half and created several good openings in attack. However, as has been Gavin Hunt’s frustration throughout the season, his team simply could not convert their chances.
And, the more United attacked, the more confident Ntombela became. The young shot stopper’s handling and composure improved immeasurably as the game went on and he made an exceptional save in the 77nd minute, palming a stinging Erasmus volley onto his post. Ten minutes later he was a hero again, turning Jabu Maluleke’s shot direct from a free kick away for a corner.
Sadly, Ntombela succumbed to cramp at the end of the regulation 90 minutes and was replaced by first choice goalkeeper Thulasizwe Khuzwayo at the start of extra time.
The match looked destined for penalties but, with ten minutes of extra time remaining, United finally got the goal their efforts deserved. Substitute Dipsy Selolwane slammed a shot from the ‘D’ of the box into the top corner to make it 2-1 after good set-up play from Laffor.
Laffor himself bagged a third for SuperSport, showing great pace and composure to score a fine solo goal in the 119th minute and wrap up the scoring.
In another matches, Limpopo clubs Black Leopards (National First Division) and Baroka FC (Vodacom League side) also booked themselves places in the last 16 of the competition when they beat Thanda Royal Zulu and Mighty Mega Force 2-1 and 2-0 respectively in a doubled header matches played at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane yesterday. Additional report by Backpagepix