JOHANNESBURG - With the second worst strike rate in the league, SuperSport United are in desperate need of a saviour upfront and interim coach Kaitano Tembo is confident he’s got just the man for the job.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori have managed a paltry 20 goals in 27 matches. Only bottom-placed Platinum Stars have scored fewer goals in the league. That shyness in front of goal is the reason the Tshwane side has been drawn into the relegation quagmire and is also the reason they were eliminated from the CAF Confederation Cup by Gor Mahia.
The Kenyan giants lost 2-1 to SuperSport at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday but they advanced to the group stage on the away goal rule with the two-legged tie ending 2-2 on aggregate. Thabo Mnyamane scored three goals in the two home leg ties in the Confederation Cup, which is why Tembo believes that he can carry the team to safety.
“He has the quality,” Tembo said. “We know what he can give us. The problem is that he hasn’t really played much this season. He only just started playing because of the (groin) injury he sustained late last year.
"He is also still working on getting his full match fitness towards the end of the season which is not ideal as we would have loved to have him for the better part of the season. It’s good that he has come back while we are in this situation. He will give us the goals that we need to be safe.”
Tembo fielded a relatively young team against Gor Mahia, resting a number of key players for their clash with Free State Stars on Wednesday in the league. Despite being at under strength, Matsatsantsa put on a brave fight against the 16-time Kenyan champions who were also without key players due to visa issues.
Tembo was disappointed by the loss but not with the performance that led to the team scoring two goals. Before those goals, Matsatsantsa had gone four matches without hitting the back of the opposition net.
“It’s a little bit of a confidence booster but at the same time, there is only one player who is scoring those goals (Mnyamane),” Tembo said. “We need other players to try and chip in with the goals. That’s important. It should be a team effort. We’ve got players who are capable of scoring goals, like Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena.
"They should be chipping in with the goals because we are getting in there, it’s only the final pass lacking. The reason we find ourselves in this situation (relegation-haunted) is that we haven’t scored enough goals and the team as a whole hasn’t contributed enough in that regard.”
SuperSport’s last three matches will see them host Stars and travel to Chippa United next week before ending the campaign against Baroka FC in Atteridgeville. They can’t afford any slip-ups with just one point separating them from 15th-placed Ajax Cape Town. Tembo is adamant they will survive the drop.
“It’s all in our hands. We just have to perform. It’s as simple as that. That’s what will make us survive, doing well and winning our matches. We are in control of our destiny.”