JOHANNESBURG – Kaitano Tembo has challenged SuperSport United’s “most talented midfielder” to be consistent so that he can claim his rightful place in the starting line-up on a regular basis.
Sipho Mbule showed his quality in the Tshwane Derby on Saturday against Mamelodi Sundowns when he came on for the last 30 minutes.
The 21-year-old’s creativity pushed back a dominant Sundowns team that had bossed the midfield with Hlompho Kekana and Rivaldo Coetzee.
Mbule’s talent has never been in doubt, but his lack of focus led to him playing just four league matches last season.
With Reneilwe Letsholonyane no longer at United, Mbule has to step up.
“Sipho is the most talented in our midfield,” Tembo said. “We have given him a target this season. He’s got to come out. He’s got to play regularly.
“He wasn’t really serious in terms of looking after himself physically.
“This season he has come back with a changed mindset because we’ve got the three – him, (Jamie) Webber and Teboho Mokoena fighting for one position.
“Mbule and Webber are both 21. It’s quite a challenge. He has to be a little bit more consistent.
“He has been very consistent throughout pre-season, that’s why he got an opportunity to play. I wasn’t even worried.
“I knew that I could throw him in there and he could play. He has thrown a challenge to Tebza because he is the one who has been regular in that position, but now there is Sipho knocking.
“We’ve got a very healthy competition.”
Facing Sundowns in their opener was a good test for SuperSport to gauge where they are.
But things won’t ease up, with Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs up next.
The real challenge, though, will start when they face unfancied teams like Baroka FC and Polokwane City.
“The challenge for us is to be consistent,” Tembo said. “If you play a derby as your first game, players are always looking forward to play a game of this magnitude.
“But the challenge for us going forward is to be consistent and dish out the same performance week-in, week out.
“I’ve got a good squad. We need to be a little bit more consistent.”
SuperSport’s next match, against Pirates next week Wednesday, will be one that Thamsanqa Gabuza will be looking forward to.
The burly striker joined Matsatsantsa from the Buccaneers, where he had a rollercoaster ride, scoring important goals in key games, but also having his own fans boo him.
“He combined well with Bradley Grobler,” Tembo said. “They could play off each other well.
“We piled the pressure on the two centre backs because we didn’t really want to give them too much time on the ball because when they build-up from the back, they cause problems.
“He was also a good outlet for us whenever we had problem and we could go to him. He held the ball very well.”