Today sees Palace take on Supersport United in their opening game of the inaugural Cape Town Cup. Here we give you the low-down on the side from South Africa before they challenge the Eagles for a place in the final.
Supersport United play in the Premier Soccer League which has been the top flight of South African football since 1996. They began life as Pretoria City which is where they’re based in the northern half of the country, around 900 miles from Cape Town. Their nickname is the Matsatsantsa, which translates to the Trendsetters or the Swanky Boys.
In 1994 they were purchased by M-Net, who own a number of television channels in the country and were renamed Supersport United, winning promotion to the top tier a year later. They play at the Lucas Moripe Stadium which holds 28,500 spectators, a ground they share with fellow Premier Soccer League club Mamelodi Sundowns – the most successful side in the history of the division and their local rivals.
Last season saw Supersport finish sixth in the league, They won three back-to-back league titles between 2008 and 2010, but ever since those heady days they have rarely threatened to win another championship, although they have won three Nedbank Cups (South Africa’s version of the FA Cup) and are the current holders of the Telkom Knockout Cup.
They are managed by former South Africa national team coach Gordon Igesund who has won the Premier Soccer League four times with four different sides as a manager.
He has a number of South African capped players to select from, including midfielders Lebogang Manyama, last season’s Player of the Year Thuso Phala, veteran defender Clayton Daniels and 17-year-old Athenkosi Dlala who recently had trials in Belgium. They also have two New Zealand internationals – Jeremy Brockie was their top scorer last season eight goals in 13 games, and Michael Boxall who has nine caps for the All Whites.
In 2013 they shocked Manchester City by beating them 2-0 in a pre-season friendly in what was Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge of the Citizens.