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Kaitano Tembo’s exit could work out well for some

Kaitano Tembo, Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Kaitano Tembo, Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Apr 22, 2022

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Johannesburg - Kaitano Tembo’s dismissal by the SuperSport United board was a double-edged sword. He was sabotaged by the management, while his departure might have saved an international career as well.

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Before his departure a fortnight ago, Tembo had been part of the blue army for more than two decades, having retired at the club before cutting his coaching teeth in the development ranks.

To say he learnt from the best would be an understatement. He’s a protégé of two of the most successful coaches in the land, Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt.

Like any other coach, it was his dream to coach SuperSport’s senior team. And that dream was realised when the club parted with Eric Tinkler in 2018.

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His tenure got off to a flyer, winning the MTN8 final in his second successive final. But the impact of Covid-19 reportedly caused damage to SuperSport’s finances.

The club’s chief executive Stan Matthews went back on his word many a time, selling players that he vowed were the core of the team or were future exports, to local rivals Mamelodi Sundowns. Remember what he said about Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena?

ALSO READ: Apart from Gavin Hunt, who else is in line to get the SuperSport United head coach job?

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That forced Tembo to tap into the development teams while he had to keep a winning front. Yes, the club was so ambitious that they wanted to mould youngsters while winning matches. “We are a top-four team,” Matthews proclaimed.

But the wheels came off this year as SuperSport won only three matches in 10 outings. It was embarrassing that they were disrespected by a second-tier player who said it was like they were playing against a fellow GladAfrica Championship team after they botched a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final.

That loss was Tembo’s last game in charge of SuperSport as he was sacked and replaced by Andre Arendse on an interim basis.

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Tembo’s sacking could well be a blessing in disguise for captain Ronwen Williams who had only kept three clean sheets before the 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs recently, after conceding 15 goals.

ALSO READ: Former Kaizer Chiefs' coach Gavin Hunt having a blast in Manchester

Williams is also the Bafana captain and No 1. That he was leaking goals at club level while he was expected to keep them out at Bafana was asking too much. Hence the 5-0 defeat to France in an international friendly.

Sure, Williams was arguably the better player in the youthful Bafana team, given the 11 saves he made against the star-studded world champions. But to concede five goals at international level is a blemish on a goalkeeper’s record.

Williams will know that better. After all, that was the second time he conceded five goals at Bafana after the 5-0 loss to Brazil in 2014, although he had worked hard to patch that scar.

So, no doubt Tembo’s dismissal was harsh given the limited resources he had, but players such as Williams, who’ll be eager to see the team strengthened under the new coach, might get a lifeline at international level. The 2023 Afcon qualifiers are around the corner.

@MihlaliBaleka

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