JOHANNESBURG – If Kaitano Tembo had any hopes of being handed the SuperSport United head coaching job on a permanent basis, he should make peace with the fact that the current crop of players have killed off those chances fairly quickly.
Matsatsantsa’s failure to launch in their Absa Premiership relegation battle at the moment is hurting Tembo, who was appointed in the interim following Eric Tinkler’s resignation back in March.
In an interview with this columnist several days after the announcement that Tinkler had packed his bags and exited the building, club CEO Stan Matthews hinted that Tembo had been given - verbally, at least - the right to refusal to the vacant job at the end of the season should he be interested.
It’s the first time the Zimbabwean, who remained in the structures of the club even after he retired from playing football in 2006, has been appointed caretaker for this long.
It’s usually a game or two that he is holding the fort in the dugout before a new coach is roped in, much like when both Cavin Johnson and Gordon Igesund were given the boot and the 47-year-old had to step in temporarily.
Matthews was right to suggest that if Tembo turned their fortunes around, he would have been top of the list when the club considered candidates to take the plush job prior to the next campaign.
Tembo has now been in charge of four league matches and it’s looking pretty grim.
He’s not won a single one of those games, with the one positive perhaps the fact that SuperSport have only suffered just one defeat.
The rest were draws that were borderline lethargic and inspiring when looking at their situation. It must be said that Tembo did guide them to an impressive come-from-behind win over Petro de Luanda of Angola last month, a victory which pushed them into the play-offs of the Caf Confederations Cup.
They’ve been tame since and it’s almost like Tinkler is still somehow pulling the strings. But Tembo is unlike Tinkler. He is easy-going and was the right man to be Fireman Sam in order to rescue the situation, although he is cutting it fine.
It’s probably a mental uphill for the players to pull themselves back up again and fight their way out of this relegation quagmire they find themselves in.
It is looking likely that they will know whether they have managed to keep their Premier Soccer League status on the final day of the season because of how the log table looks at the moment. With three games to go, only two points separate SuperSport and Ajax Cape Town, who are in a relegation play-off position and actually have a game in hand.
Should they win that game in hand, they would leapfrog Tembo and his men, setting them up for the unthinkable and something Tembo would have to live with throughout his coaching career.
I don’t see how he will be handed the job permanently as things stand and he may want to prepare for life as an assistant coach yet again.