“We couldn’t keep the two Thabos as we look to promote youngsters”

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Young players hold a special place in Kaitano Tembo’s heart as his SuperSport United side boast one of the youngest teams in the Absa Premiership with an average age of 26.4.

The SuperSport coach has explained why the club handed Thabo Qalinge and Thabo Mnyamane their release papers despite the duo having extension options on their contracts.

According to Tembo, it is SuperSport’s tradition to promote players from the youth structures hence the club decided to part ways with Qalinge and Mnyamane.

“Let’s get the league season out of the way and then, we can start talking about which players we want to add to our squad,” Tembo told the South African Football Journalists Association (Safja).

Tembo stated his strong belief in youngsters comes from his experience of being a development coach and witnessed several talented young people give up as they couldn’t graduate to the first team.  Picture: SuperSport United. 

“We couldn’t keep the two Thabos in the team anymore as we look to bring through the young players that are determined to break into the starting line-up. They are good players and we have no doubt that they will do well wherever they decided to play next season,” added the 49-year-old mentor.

Qalinge joined SuperSport in 2019 from Orlando Pirates in an attempt to resurrect his career but due to injuries and lack of game time, the 28-year-old failed to make an impression as he only managed to make five appearances during his short stint at ‘Matsatsantsa’.

“For me, the main issue with Qalinge is that he never really got going with us because of injuries. When he arrived, he had an ankle injury and it took him time to really get an opportunity to play,” explained Tembo.

“At the same time, we’ve had other players in his position also doing well, so it was a little bit difficult for him, which also frustrated him because he wanted to play. But he really just couldn’t get going because of the injuries.”

While the writing is on the wall for Mnyamane, who had been part of the Tshwane team since 2016, having joined from University of Pretoria (AmaTuks).

Mnyamane only played three matches and scored one goal in the currently suspended 2019/20 campaign. The 27-year-old enjoyed a great deal of success in Tshwane as he won four titles – two Nedbank Cup and two MTN8 titles.

Mnyamane played 63 games for SuperSport and scored 16 goals and provided 7 assists. Picture: SuperSport United. 

Tembo went on to say that there are lessons to be learned by footballers from the enforced coronavirus break.

“This is one moment where we had to take a step back and realise what happens when something that we love so much is taken away from us.

“Hopefully the players have realised that they have to take their careers seriously because it is something that can be taken away at any time.”

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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