The MTN8 took centre stage on the South African football scene this weekend, THABANG KGELEDI takes a look at the key take aways from the encounter.
A wet Mbombela stadium was the venue that witnessed Bidvest Wits overcome the highly favoured Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 in the MTN8 final.
Trending up – A final to remember for Gavin Hunt
All finals, and most matches for that matter, need an early goal to set the scene for the afternoon. An early goal gets both sets of fans, and neutrals, into the game and adds hype to the encounter. Step up, Daine Klate. It took just a minute for the PSL stalwart to find the back of the net as he rifled the ball home with his weaker right foot from just outside the penalty area.
As game ebbed and flowed it could be argued that both sides were not playing ‘Cup final football’ but no one could contend against the entertainment value it offered.
The early goal meant Sundowns were forced to attack which fell right into Gavin Hunt’s counter attack trap. A second Wits goal inevitably followed as the Clever Boys headed into the break 2-0 up and 45 minutes away from the trophy and the riches that follow. It was panic stations for the Brazilians as they knew they had a mountain to climb against one of the better defensive units in South Africa. Pitso Mosimane’s attacking changes did not pay dividends as Klate completed his brace and ended the match as a contest in the 62nd minute.
The win means somewhat of a completion of Gavin Hunt’s journey to the top of the coaching pile in the PSL. Since moving from his highly successful Supersport United team to Bidvest Wits, Hunt hasn’t had much luck with converting small but talent squads who play fast, attractive football on the pitch into trophies in the cabinet. However, that all changed on Saturday as Man of the Match Klate recognised.
‘If anyone deserves Man of the Match it’s our coach, he’s been unbelievable since he came to Wits. You know what, our coach is the Man of the Match, he deserves it more than anyone else today,’ said Klate.
‘The coach is always spot on, when we give it our all, when we do what he says we must do, we do exceptionally well. I’m just very happy for the brand Bidvest Wits today.’
Trending down – Sundowns out of steam?
Are Mamelodi Sundowns cracks starting to show? When the referees whistle blew and all was said and done, there is no arguing that the PSL champions were outplayed, outmaneuvered and outlasted by Wits. In his post-game interview, their coach Pitso Mosimane hinted that there might be more trouble ahead as his side struggles with fatigue.
‘I’ve said it before now‚ not only now‚ and we saw it against Zesco‚ that we are showing that we are running a little bit out of steam – not getting to the second balls and tackles. I’m happy I’ve said it before and not now just because we lost‚’ Mosimane said after the game.
The Sundowns coach did, however, laud his rivals and their coach, on a well-deserved win. A nice touch from Mosimane, who has won it all on the local front.
‘They were the better team. I’m happy for the team, I’m happy for Gavin Hunt, I can see his broad smile, God loves us all, he won his first trophy, he deserves a trophy, he’s been fighting and fighting.’
Mosimane’s troops still have the Caf Champion’s League final to look forward to but this Cup final loss could yet have a demoralizing effect on the team. There is no doubt that the continental tournament takes its toll on the teams battling from Cape Town to Cairo, both physically and mentally.
One only needs to look back to the example of Orlando Pirates, who paid for their success in the competition with a string of poor performances on the domestic front after their continental conquest ended in failure.
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Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images