When Kaitano Tembo took over back in 2018 as caretaker coach after the sudden resignation of Eric Tinkler, SuperSport United were starring relegation in the face.
Loyalty and a desire to win silverware were the main reasons Tembo was finally appointed head coach in 2019, according to ‘Matsatsantsa’ CEO Stanley Matthews.
In his seven-month stint as caretaker coach, Tembo won his first trophy after beating Highlands Park in the 2019 MTN 8 final at Orlando Stadium.
The Zimbabwean mentor also led the Tshwane giants out of the relegation zone into a top-six finish during the 2018/19 campaign and has gone on to promote a number of youngsters from the SuperSport youth ranks.
“I think when I took over the team was in 14th, two points above relegation, and with only about seven games to go – and we finished seventh. And the following season, when I was appointed full-time, we lost in the MTN8 final on penalties to Cape Town City and finished sixth in the league.
“And this is my second season, where we also got into the MTN8 final, and we won it (against Highlands Park), and we’re currently in third in the league,” added Tembo.
There’s no doubt that Tembo’s blood is blue and white having been with ‘Matsatsantsa for over two decades, occupying every coaching post at the club, from the junior ranks to the Under-19s, reserve team as well as serving as an assistant coach for various first team coaches.
“So when I look back I see progress. And if you look at the team which I took over, to the team I have now, there’s a huge difference,” he said.
“A lot of players have left and we’ve brought in a lot of young players. For me, that’s what I look at if I want to judge myself.
“This season, I want to try and finish higher than we did last season. The team that got to the (2017) Confederation Cup final was very experienced, and most of those players are no longer with us.
“We are in a rebuilding phase, and it’s also made worse by the pandemic, and there are no budgets. So how I look at it is to bring in young players.
“This team can still improve and in the next two or three years, we should be fighting for the league. So we’re cutting the budget, and at the same time staying competitive. I can see that in the next two, three seasons, we will be able to challenge,” concluded Tembo.
DID YOU KNOW?
Tembo won the Engen Under-17 Knock-out challenge in 2008 and the Under-19 Men’s Championship in 2010.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi