SuperSport United and Bloemfontein Celtic played to a 1-1 draw in their MTN8 first leg semifinal played at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Phunya Sele Sele bossed the first half and claimed the lead through Ndumiso Mabena, while Matsatsantsa fought back early in the second stanza through Ghampani Lungu to leave the tie delicately poised ahead of next weekend’s rematch.
The first effort in anger came from SuperSport in the fourth minute, with Bongani Khumalo heading on target from a set piece, but Jackson Mabokgwane was not overly stretched in making the save.
Celtic then put together a couple of good chances, especially in the 11th minute when a ball ran right across the penalty area to find Andile Fikizolo, who sliced an effort high and wide when he should have at least tested goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
United’s alarming lack of defensive organisation was exposed on the quarter hour mark, with a brilliant flick into space from Victor Letsoalo allowing Ndumiso Mabena to sprint in behind the centre-backs and bury a low shot past Williams’ left-hand to put Celtic 1-0 up.
Phunya Sele Sele, though, were soon dealt an injury blow when midfielder Lantshene Phalane limped off with what appeared to be a muscle injury. He was replaced by Given Mashikinya in the 28th minute.
Nonetheless, the team in green and white kept pushing forward and should have doubled their lead in the 37th minute when a slick passing move set up Letsoalo with a sight of goal, but Williams did well to close the angle and make a fine block.
Celtic continued to test and probe their hosts’ defence, but halftime arrived with the Bloemfontein team still just 1-0 up and no doubt frustrated at not fully capitalising on their dominance in the opening 45 minutes.
And that came back to haunt the visitors five minutes into the second stanza, with Ghampani Lungu – at the second time of asking after an initial save from Mabokgwane – scoring from close range after a fine cross by Iqraam Rayners on the left flank.
Another injury blow struck Celtic at the midway point of the second half when they replaced Mabokgwane with Sipho Chaine, while the final 20 minutes of the match was played in driving rain and strong wind, with a storm sweeping in and making life difficult for the players.
SuperSport midfielder Teboho Mokoena almost made a mockery of the conditions with a beautifully-struck effort on 84 minutes which shaved the outside of Chaine’s left-hand post.
The return leg will be held at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein next Saturday, November 7. The aggregate winners will face either Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs in the final.
SuperSport United (0) 1 (Lungu 50’)Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 1 (Mabena 15’)
SuperSport: Williams, Nhlapo (Phillips 74’), Khumalo, Daniels, Mahachi, Mokoena, Rayners (Rusike 69’), Webber (Waiswa 46’), Lungu, Gabuza, Grobler (Mohomi 66’)
Celtic: Mabokgwane (Chaine 67’), Ngobeni, Mahashe, Chabalala, Pfumbidzai, Fikizolo, Phalane (Mashikinya 28’), Baloyi, Luthuli (Masuku 68’), Mabena, Letsoalo (Potsane 62’)