By Petros Kausiyo
Zimbabwean coach Kaitano Tembo standing on the verge of a personal club history with SuperSport United believes the Pretoria outfit could be crowned Confederation Cup champions if they hold their nerve and frustrate Congolese giants TP Mazembe in Sunday’s final.
Tembo has evolved into a club legend having won numerous titles with SuperSport as a player and coach.
The former Warriors vice-captain is an assistant to coach Eric Tinkler at SuperSport United who also have his fellow Zimbabweans — Kingston Nkatha, Prince Dube and Onismor Bhasera on their playing books. SuperSport were in Lubumbashi last Sunday for the first leg where they narrowly lost 2-1.
But on Saturday night at Lucas Moripe stadium, Tembo could add a new chapter to his growing coaching profile should SuperSport overturn the deficit and claim African club football’s second tier cup.
The Warriors legend speaking ahead of the Confederation Cup final decider said they would be banking on home advantage and determination to overcome the defending champions.
“We need to have a good start and score goals and defend well as a team so that we also don’t concede, though it’s not going to be easy because we are playing a very experienced Mazembe who have also done well on the road and they are the current champions.
The away goal which we scored has made us to believe that they are beatable,’’ Tembo said.
Teenage midfielder Sipho Mbule who is 19 years old, grabbed the crucial away goal that has kept the South African side believing and Tembo said they needed to build on that exceptional strike from long range which the Confederation Cup debutant is not likely to forget soon.
It now means a 1-0 win by SuperSport could be enough to see them win the silverware on the away goal’s rule and their first ever continental title.
Tembo reckoned the bulk of the pressure was more on Mazembe, given the Congolese giants profile in continental football but insisted that they were psyched up for the tough challenge.
“The mood in the camp is very good knowing that we are a game away from being champions and it’s been a very long journey for us to reach this stage.
The pressure is obviously on Mazembe because they are the champions. We will definitely need the support of our fans to carry us through,’’ Tembo said.
The 47-year-old coach also said SuperSport’s United’s fairy-tale run in the competition had also helped him build his capacity.
“It has been good for me to learn different philosophies and tactical approaches from different opponents we have faced and that has been helpful in terms of my development as a coach.
“The playing styles are always different and the players have also been brilliant in facing these challenges like travelling and that has made them stronger mentally and in terms of self-belief’’. Tembo also spoke highly of their young midfielder Mbule whom he reckoned was destined to be a key player for SuperSport.
“Sipho has done well considering that he is only 19 and we have been bringing him gradually by giving him game time in both the league and the reserve league and the progression has been very good. “He is will to learn and work hard and he is very humble which is an advantage,’’ Tembo said.
SuperSport skipper Dean Furman also reckoned that the Pretoria club would turn the tables on Mazembe.
Mazembe initially began their African Safari in the Champions League before they were eliminated by CAPS United in the second round and were relegated to the Confederation Cup.
Furman just like Tembo is however, under no illusion of the tough task that waits them at Lucas Moripe stadium but told the media that he rued his side’s missed chances in the first leg but believes they can get the required result in the return fixture to lift the trophy.
“We do believe we should have been 1-0 up before they even got a chance (to score), so one of the things we will have to be (in the second leg) is clinical.
Maybe our legs ran out in the end, but a 2-1 result is not a bad result. We got the away goal and we know that we are a difficult team to beat at home and when the conditions are in our favour and not the other team,’’ Furman said.
The Bafana Bafana midfielder also said he was hopeful that there would be a full house similar to what they had experienced in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It’s fantastic to play in front of a crowd like this (in Lubumbashi). We actually enjoy it, rather than get intimidated by it. We are hoping that we will have a big crowd that’s getting behind us at home,” Furman said. The Herald