JOHANNESBURG - Even though SuperSport United have a whiff of the leading pack, sitting in third place on the PSL standings, coach Kaitano Tembo is preaching humility and isn’t harbouring much thoughts on the league title.
Matsatsantsa are eight points behind log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs, and one behind Mamelodi Sundowns in second place. But the Tshwane side have played two more games than Amakhosi and four more games than the Brazilians. The two teams can open up a huge gap between them and SuperSport if they win their games in hand, but they could also slip-up to turn SuperSport’s window of opportunity into a door in the final stretch of the season where every team has something to play for. Tembo’s first response when asked if he is eyeing the championship was laughter before he explained himself.
“We need to really focus on ourselves, take it one game at a time because it is tough,” Tembo said. “There are still a lot of games to play. There is still going to be a lot of twists and turns. It’s still a long way to go. We just need to make sure that we refocus, take it one game at a time which is very important for us.”
The top four teams still have to play each other which will lead to an interesting finale with every club driven by a different desire in their fight for the championship. Chiefs want to end a four-season trophy drought.
Sundowns are looking to win a record-extending 10th league title in the PSL-era that started in 1996. Sundowns are also the reigning league champions and will be looking to make up for their elimination in the Caf Champions League.
SuperSport were last champions of South Africa 10 years ago. Since winning the league three times in a row, ending in 2010 - they have fallen back in the league race. But they have done well in knockout competitions to make up for their underwhelming league run.
Orlando Pirates, in fourth place with the same number of points as SuperSport, are also looking to end a trophy drought. The Buccaneers last won a trophy in 2014.
In these four teams, SuperSport have less pressure on them because they have already won a Cup this season and there isn’t much expectation for them to win the league title. That could count in their favour when the pressure intensifies.
“Look, we are coming from three difficult games,” Tembo said. “There were two games in the league (a win over Wits and loss to Stellenbosch FC) and the one we lost to Golden Arrows in the Nedbank Cup. The loss to Stellenbosch deflated us. We needed to go back to basics and say let us take it one game at a time. That’s our approach at the moment, we want to take it one game at a time.
The rest will take care of itself. We have to focus on ourselves first.”