Unwelcome distraction gives struggling Supersport plenty to think about

16 April 2018 - 15:03 By Nick Said
SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo.
SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Relegation-threatened SuperSport United have an unwelcome distraction on Wednesday when they host Gor Mahia in the African Confederation Cup and are likely to rest a number of key players.

SuperSport are just a single point above Ajax Cape Town in the relegation play-off position and coach Kaitano Tembo has made it clear that their home clash against Free State Stars on Wednesday next week is massive for the club.

He has suggested he will again use youngsters and fringe members of the squad for the clash with Gor Mahia‚ where the side must overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit.

“It is about managing the team and the players‚" Tembo said.

"When we went to Kenya we took some of our youngsters‚ Luke le Roux‚ Jamie Webber‚ Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule.

"They all played there and they did very well.

“There are some players who are battling in terms of [too much] game-time‚ Yeye [Reneilwe Letsholonyane]‚ Dean [Furman]‚ Thuso [Phala]‚ so we need to give them time to rest so that they are fresh when we play against Free State Stars.”

The Pretoria-based side reached the final of the Confederation Cup last year‚ one of the reasons given for poor performance in the domestic league with players fatigued from that campaign.

SuperSport played to their third goalless draw in four games on Saturday when they were held 0-0 by Cape Town City‚ but Tembo says he was encouraged by the performance.

“We dominated in terms of possession and in terms of penetration we had more opportunities than them.

"We were a little bit more adventurous than them. With a bit of luck we could have got a goal or two‚” he said.

“I am just happy with the performance‚ it gives us hope that at least we are playing well going into the next game.

“We are playing good football‚ but it’s not easy now‚ a lot of teams are scrapping for points. But we have experienced players. I still believe in the guys.”

Tembo admits that there could be a crisis of confidence in the team after they have gone winless in seven league games dating back to the start of February‚ but says he is working hard to change that.

“When you are not winning games‚ the confidence in the camp goes and you have to start from the bottom to try and lift the players‚ to get them to play with a little bit of freedom and confidence‚” he said.