Defending champions SuperSport United face a tough road trip to Thohoyandou for their MTN8 quarterfinal against top-flight new-boys Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) on Saturday afternoon.
Matsatsantsa coach Kaitano Tembo is wary of the unknown threat of the Limpopo club as he shares his team’s preparations for the new campaign.
You come up against something of an unknown quantity in a new-look TTM …
It is an opportunity to defend the trophy we won last season. It will not be an easy game, in fact it is probably the most difficult game we could have on the first day of the season. We are playing against a new team that just came up, we don’t really have an idea what type of team we will come across. That makes it quite difficult, but at the same time our preparation will be key.
Do the difficulties they have had in finding a coach and new players come as an advantage to you?
It makes it even more dangerous for us. A lot of players who have gone there want to prove themselves and a cup game gives them the opportunity to do that, especially playing against the champions. It will be very difficult for us, but we need to try and focus on ourselves and make sure we prepare very well for the game. We have tried not to be side-tracked by what is going on in their camp and focus on ourselves to make sure we go there in the right frame of mind.
Can you update us on players that could be missing this weekend?
Kuda Mahachi is still in self-isolation after he tested positive for Covid-19 last week during our normal course of our testing. So he will not play at the weekend. Sipho Mbule will also be out, he had a slight knock on the knee when we were in camp in Polokwane, that is why he did not join Bafana Bafana. He only started training on Tuesday, so he is not going to be fit to play at the weekend.
Have you had enough time to prepare for the new season?
It has not been ideal, but at the same time we must do what we can with the time we have had, just the three weeks to prepare. But I don’t think we lack much in terms of match fitness, we only gave the players 10 days break after the bio-bubble. We never really changed the team, we have had a few departures, but the core of the squad is still around. The new players are gelling well with the team, even if it does take a bit of time for them to get going.
Having sold the likes of Aubrey Modiba, are you worried about your depth on the left-hand side of the team?
We are a little bit thin there, we only have Onismor Bhasera as an out-and-out left-footed player. But at the same time, in attack we don’t always use left-footers, we brought in Iqraam Rayners, who can also play on the left. He can cut inside to take shots at the goal. It just means we won’t be playing a crossing game when we played with lopsided wingers. But in terms of depth at left-back, we do have quite a few problems. We might look at what we can afford in the market. But we don’t really have the money, so we probably have to look in our MDC [MultiChoice Diski Challenge] team for the depth.
You have a number of warriors in the side, not least veteran defender Clayton Daniels. At 36, people may say he is getting on a bit, so what does he bring for you?
When it comes to Clayton, he is very key for us in defence. He is one of the senior players and our backbone. We always try to identify players we can build a team around and he is one of those. We don’t look at his age, it is about what I see on a daily basis in training, and I see the hunger and desire to do well. He also plays a role in helping the younger players. He looks after himself and is still key to us going into the new season. In fact, he can still go for the next two or three seasons.
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