By Tadious Manyepo
He was not in the same history-making pioneering group of the Warriors with SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo in Tunisia at the African Cup of Nations football finals in Tunisia in 2004.
It was his twin brother Wilfred who played alongside the legendary former Dynamos defensive stalwart in that eventful opening game against Egypt, each of them having their moment in hell.
As soon as the Egyptians raced to a 2-1 lead, Tembo, apparently frustrated, punched the ball as an Egyptian striker attempted to lob the ball over the towering defender, an act that earned him a yellow card.
William Mugeyi’s twin brother, Wilfred, was then presented with a golden chance to level matters in the closing stages of the match but somehow fluffed his lines, shooting over the bar from close-range.
By then both his playing career and Tembo’s were in their twilight and they never really got time to share the same dressing room save for a few occasions when they played together for the national team which they both had time to captain at different occasions.
At club level, they were rivals with William Mugeyi turning out for Black Aces while Tembo was with Dynamos.
But, William Mugeyi, who is one of the players to have a prolonged stay in South Africa since his days as a player at Umtata Bush Bucks doesn’t mince his words when he talks of the SuperSport United gaffer.
William Mugeyi has described Tembo as a larger-than-life character who youngsters and aspiring coaches can learn from.
Tembo remains the longest Zimbabwean coach to last for over two years at the top of a South African Premiership side, having taken over the reins in 2018.
Before his elevation, the Kadoma-born tactician was Gavin Hunt’s understudy having risen through the ranks, coaching the SuperSport Under-17 side and the Under-19 team, leading the club’s reserves in the popular Multi-Diski Challenge.
Since he assumed the head coach’s role, Tembo has led the Pretoria side to the MTN8 Cup glory and a top-six finish in the league.
And William Mugeyi believes the systematic rise by the gaffer is largely attributable to his success in the field of play.
“Kaitano (Tembo) has done a tremendous job at SuperSport United since taking over the reins,” said William Mugeyi.
“He is a larger-than-life figure who has risen through the ranks to where he is now.”
William Mugeyi challenged the growing crop of Zimbabwean coaches to emulate the iconic Tembo insisting growing in this field needs painstaking effort and focus.
“This is a tremendous job being done by Tembo and this is as inspiring as it is encouraging.
“We have seen Tembo growing from a juniors’ coach to becoming a respected gaffer in the South African top-flight.
“For one to grow like Tembo, they should equip themselves starting from the grassroots so as to gain the much-needed experience. Look, Tembo rose through the ranks at SuperSport United coaching in the academy before he spent time as an assistant coach.
“He was very patient and willing to learn from experienced coaches, he learnt a lot from coaches like Hunt (Gavin) and Pitso (Mosimane), among others.
“So one needs to come through those ranks to be able to emulate what Tembo has achieved so far.
“He has also attended a lot of coaching courses to understand the fundamental aspects of the game.
“You could see the very day he was appointed that he has not looked back but has instead grown to be a better coach with each passing game.
“He has achieved a lot in a short space of time, and he is a humble human being, a gentleman but with a heart of a lion.
“You have to be very strong to achieve in this coaching business.”
Besides William Mugeyi, Tembo has received kudos from other respected veterans of the game and administrators, including the Southern Africa Laliga Managing Director, Marcos Pellegring, and Zimbabwe legend Alaxander Maseko.
The SuperSport United gaffer has also been nominated for the Zimbabwe Sportsperson of the Year Award based in South Africa where he will battle with Golden Arrows goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda.
The award is administered by Mamelodi Sundowns manager Peter Ndlovu.
Tembo’s SuperSport United are currently sixth on the DStv South African Premiership table with nine points from five games, five behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns who have played a game more.
The Tshwane side will take on Bloemfontein Celtic this evening. The Herald.