Is this his hour? …Tembo on verge of SuperSport job …Ex-Warriors defender gets players’ backing

Former Zimbabwe vice captain Kaitano Tembo continued to edge closer to securing the SuperSport United coaching job, with the club’s players yesterday becoming the latest group within the club to throw their weight behind the gaffer.

Kaitano Tembo then Assistant Manager at SuperSport during the 2017 Nedbank Cup Final joint press conference for Supersport United and Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on on 22 June 2017 © Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

There has been growing speculation on whether Tembo will be handed the job that fell vacant after Eric Tinkler left on March 1, following a string of poor results that left the Pretoria club lurking closer to relegation last season. But with just days before the 2018-19 ABSA Premiership bursts into life, it will be Tembo who will certainly be directing operation from the dugout.

Tembo has once again been SuperSport United’s caretaker coach, a situation the former Warriors defender has often found himself in at the club whenever there has been no head coach.

SuperSport will travel to Cape Town City for their first assignment of the Premiership season which gets underway on Saturday.

The club has also been rather quiet on the transfer market during the off-season and have instead offloaded two Zimbabwean strikers — Kingston Nkatha whose contract was not renewed and Prince Dube, who could yet be released on loan or sold outright.

Nkatha has since resurfaced at Harare giants Dynamos with whom he signed an initial six-month agreement up to the end of the season and could be immediately unveiled by Lloyd Mutasa when the Glamour Boys face old rivals Highlanders in a Castle Lager Premiership Battle of Zimbabwe clash.

There had been hopes too in the Bosso camp that Dube, on a four-year contract with SuperSport could be loaned out to Highlanders and also feature in their showdown with DeMbare at Barbourfields on Sunday.

It, however, emerged that Dube will not be coming to Bulawayo as he is being assessed by Martizburg United who are looking to take him as a direct replacement for their former hitman Evans Rusike.

But as SuperSport continued with their build-up to the start of the ABSA Premiership season, it was Tembo who moved an inch closer to getting the coach’s job on a substantive basis after securing the seal of approval from the club’s players.

SuperSport United captain Dean Furman told Enca television channel that the players were firmly behind Tembo and that they regarded him as the club’s head coach.

“For us from the moment coach Kaitano came in, he has been fantastic with us. He has known us for a long time, we have known him for a long time as players we are fully behind him. We have had a very solid pre-season working under him we hope that we can continue in a way that we ended last season and under his stewardship,” said Furman.

Veteran midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane also indicated that the SuperSport dressing room had warmed up to Tembo and backed him for the top job.

“For us as a club we have a coach and according to us he is our head coach we give him the same respect as someone who has a title of head coach we don’t care about a head coach or what we have a head coach Kaitano and we are planning properly for the new season,” Letsholonyane said.

But as he has often insisted, Tembo said he was not losing focus on the fact that he has an assignment to get SuperSport ready for the championship marathon.

“For me that’s not important (the talk about a substantive appointment), what matters for me is to do my job like I’m doing now like I did last season as if it’s my last.

“I don’t want to focus on other issues that I have no control of what I can control now is the responsibility that I have been given by the club and I really appreciate it and thank them for that for showing confidence in me the board the CEO”, Tembo said.

Tembo is a club legend at SuperSport United having played and coached there for a number of years.

The 47-year-old Zimbabwean lost just one Absa Premiership match from the seven he took charge following the resignation of Tinkler, guiding Matsatsantsa to safety and — with the help of some Ajax Cape Town’s Ndoro case — eventually led them to an unlikely seventh-place finish. Tembo worked closely with Stuart Baxter before the Englishman left to take over the Bafana Bafana job and was installed the caretaker coach prior to Tinkler’s arrival.

It appears that he was able to get a bit more out of the players going into the final few games when they appeared to be on the ropes.

Meanwhile, Khama Billiat continues to receive the backing to shine at his new club Kaizer Chiefs with former Mamelodi Sundowns skipper and Amakhosi defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele believing that the Warriors forward will be a huge asset at the club.

As they reunite at Naturena together with Leonardo Castro who moved to Amakhosi last December as well as defender Letlhogonolo Mirwa, Mphahlele has welcomed the reunion but dismissed the talk that Chiefs has become an extension of the Brazilians.

Mphahlele told kickoff.com that Billiat combining with Castro would bring the needed impetus to the Glamour Boys, who have struggled in the past seasons.

“Castro came in, in January, and he’s done well, so Khama now too. Of course we need experience, but most importantly we need players with a good mentality that come to the team and want to win and help.

“Yes, three years is not nice for Chiefs, but we will keep fighting. Unfortunately, if we as players give up then who’s going to bring a trophy?

“We have to bring the trophies, and the players have to work hard to bring the trophies. No one else can do it besides us, so we can’t give up.”

“By the way, Sundowns fans think I’m the one fetching them from Chloorkop. Guys, it’s not me, it’s football. Players move when they feel like they want to move.” The Herald