Reneilwe Letsholonyane, 36, currently has no plans to retire. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
For SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo, age really is just a number when it comes to how much playing time veterans Morgan Gould and Reneilwe Letsholonyane get.

He has used them sparingly early on this season and will probably do the same with either one of them today when they host Kaizer Chiefs in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium (3pm kick-off).

But Tembo, himself having retired at the same club when he was 36, reckons the stigma around the over 30s in the Premier Soccer League is only a delusion.

“If you look at Morgan and Yeye (Letsholonyane), these are very important players on our side. And I think we need to try and manage them properly so that we can always get the best out of them,” the coach said.

“I’ve never really looked at the age because I have seen that desire and hunger at training and in the matches when they play. That is really key.

“But at the same time when we play three games in six days I don’t think you can use the same team, otherwise fatigue starts creeping in and you have to give other players an opportunity.”

Morgan Gould has become a veteran of the game and integral part of the Supersport team. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Gould is 35, while Letsholonyane is a year older.

“But you have seen with Yeye when he plays he looks like a 20-year old. This is because we are trying to manage him so that he always gives us the best. He played 120 minutes against Orlando Pirates (in the quarterfinals of the MTN8). He ran more than anyone else, for his age.

“I had to rest him in the next game against Wits, but when he came on he was unbelievable and changed the game for us.”

Gould lost his place in the starting line-up after SuperSport were beaten 2-0 in their Premiership opener away at Cape Town City.

But he’s bounced back here and there, playing 74 minutes in the win over Pirates and being thrown in to protect a lead with a minute to go in both the victories against AmaZulu and Wits.

“I don’t want them to be 60 minutes players, but continue to play the full 90. But we have got to manage that,” Tembo said.

The Matsatsantsa coach is using his own experience in managing Gould, Letsholonyane and maybe even 34-year-old centre-back Clayton Daniels.

“You know, I think we are very quick to associate players with their age. We don’t focus on what they can do on and off the field,” Tembo explained.

“For us the older players we have play a big role in trying to hold the hands of the young players.

“That is why it is easier for our youngsters to come and play next to Yeye, for example. They see his attitude when he trains, how he behaves and how he handles himself.

“Those are things that make a footballer things that make him play past the age of 36. He runs more than some 20-year-olds out there. Our players must learn from that.

“I won’t look at Yeye and think about his age. What matters is the desire and hunger. I see it everyday.

“What more do I need? He is delivering and I won’t crucify him because of his age.”


@Sunday Independent

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