SuperSport United stars who were warned to improve or face being transfer-listed responded Sunday by snatching a dramatic 3-2 South African Premiership victory at Golden Arrows.
Pretoria-based United scored twice within two minutes during the first half to lead 2-0 by half-time in Durban, but conceded twice in four minutes soon after the break.
With the lively league match heading for a draw, Teboho Mokoena struck a brilliant long-range winner on 86 minutes to earn SuperSport maximum points.
Victory lifted United three places to sixth, and eased the pressure on the under-performing stars of a club bankrolled by a Johannesburg-based pan-African TV sport broadcaster.
SuperSport football director Stanley Matthews has told the squad and Zimbabwean coach Kaitano Tembo to finish not lower than sixth in the 16-club league or face the consequences.
“Our players are either going to earn themselves new contracts or a new broom is going to come in and sweep clean,” he told reporters.
“If SuperSport are not among the top six clubs at the end of the season, most of our players will be offered clearances or transfer listed.
“We are underperforming at the moment relative to where we have been in the past 15 years,” Matthews said of a club who were the 2018 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up.
Former Zimbabwe defender Tembo took over at the start of this season and his team have fared poorly in both the league and three knockout competitions.
They lost the MTN 8 Cup final on penalties and were eliminated in the first round of both the League Cup and FA Cup.
The win over Arrows was the eighth in 19 league matches, but they have scored only 20 goals with the most successful attacker, Zimbabwean Evans Rusike, claiming just five.
Rusike and loanee Mxolisi Macuphu netted for United before goals by Zimbabwean Knox Mutizwa and Seth Parusnath brought Arrows level.
Mokoena was closer to the centre circle than Arrows’ box when he unleashed a looping shot that drifted over goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede and into the net.
Elsewhere, Tshegofatso Mabaso became the co-leading Premiership scorer on eight goals by netting twice for Bloemfontein Celtic in a 2-2 draw away to Baroka in Polokwane.
Mabaso gave fifth-place Celtic the lead before a Mpusana Tani own-goal and a shot from captain Mduduzi Mdantsane nudged struggling Baroka into a 2-1 half-time advantage.
Mabaso struck again on 72 minutes to leave League Cup trophy-holders Baroka just two points above the relegation zone having played a game more than the club immediately below them.