Kaitano Tembo sets lofty targets for SuperSport United
JOHANNESBURG - Kaitano Tembo has endorsed the mandate from the SuperSport United board to have the team finish in a better position next season, reiterating that continuous progress has been his priority all along.
SuperSport endured a rollercoaster outing last term. They began the campaign on a high as they won the MTN8 cup competition, defeating Highlands Park 1-0 in the final at Orlando Stadium in October.
However, they failed to keep the momentum heading into their Premiership campaign as they were eliminated from the title race during the twilight of the season in the bio bubble, thanks to an inconsistent run of form.
But nonetheless, chief executive Stan Matthews was relatively pleased with his team’s attempts, although he strongly emphasised that Matsantsantsa a Pitori will need to be among the top four teams next term - especially with Bidvest Wits out of the way after they sold their status.
Tembo, who took over the reins at the club from Eric Tinkler two and a half seasons ago, shared his employer’s sentiments, insisting the team can be in the top four in South African football, likely alongside Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
“What’s important for me is progress. When I took over the club, as a caretaker coach, we were 14th and two points above relegation but we ended up finishing seventh,” Tembo, who’s been at the club for over two decades, said.
“In the following term, when I was appointed as full-time coach, we lost the MTN8 final on penalties to Cape Town City and finished sixth.
"In the past season we won the MTN8 cup and finished fifth. So, for me I see progress and building.”
SuperSport will begin their route to their MTN8 defence when they clash with new kids on the block Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at the Thohoyandou Stadium in the quarter-finals on Saturday (3pm kick -off).
TTM are without a head coach thus far, having not retained the services of Gavin Hunt when they bought Wits’ status last season. But nonetheless, with the Venda-based club a closed book, Tembo reckons they’ll have a busy afternoon up north.
“It (the reported unstable situation at the club) makes it even more dangerous for us. You must understand that those who’ve gone there want to prove themselves. So a cup game and against the champions will give them a chance to do that,” Tembo said.
In the bigger scheme of things, the SuperSport coach is happy with the progress he’s made at the club - considering the seasonal change of personnel. Some of the senior players left the club along the way and with youngsters stepping up to the plate.
“If you look at the team that I inherited and the team that I have now, there’s been a lot of changes in the playing personnel. A lot of players have left if you look at the likes of Thuso Phala, James Keene, Yeye (Reneilwe Letsholonyane) and Morgan Gould,” he said.
“We’ve seen young players coming into the team. Even this past season, Aubrey Modiba, Dean Furman and Thabo Mnyamane left. And they had previously played a key role in terms of our success. We are still building and going forward.”