Kaitano Tembo takes SuperSport United a notch higher. The highly-rated Zimbabwean coach has outlasted the likes of Stuart Baxter and Gordon Igesund, who are considered as some of the finest coaches to work in the South African Premiership, at Matsatsansa.
Kaitano Tembo has become the longest-serving SuperSport United coach in the past seven years and is the first gaffer to help the club break the 50-point mark in eight years.
Igesund, who won four league titles with Manning Rangers (‘97), Orlando Pirates (2001), Santos (2002) and Mamelodi Sundowns (2007), lasted 16 months at SuperSport United. He was in charge of the club between September 3, 2014, and January 27, 2016.
Englishman Baxter, the last coach to lead Kaizer Chiefs to the league championship after winning the title in 2013 and 2015, was in charge of SuperSport United between January 2016 and June 2017.
Other coaches, Calvin Johnson (June 2013 — August 2014) and Eric Tinkler (July 2017 — July 2018) — did not last as long, in charge of the Pretoria club, as the 50-year-old Zimbabwean. Only Gavin Hunt, the last coach to guide SuperSport United to the league championship, when the club won three titles in a row between 2008 and 2010, lasted longer at the club.
Hunt was in charge of SuperSport United between July 1, 2007, and May 28, 2013. By staying in charge of the club, for the past two years, Tembo has also become the first Zimbabwean coach to last that long, at a South African club, in the era of the Premiership.
He also became only the second local coach to guide a Supa Diski club to silverware when he led his men to success in the MTN8 in the just-ended campaign. The last local coach to lead a South African team to glory, in a knock-out tournament, was the late Peter Nyama when his Qwa Qwa Stars won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1994 after a 3-2 victory over Cape Town Hellenic.
During his two-year spell as the head coach, Tembo has helped SuperSport United improve from the 39 points the club accrued, during the 2017/2018 season, to finish with 44 points, last season, and 50 points, in the just-ended campaign. Defensively, SuperSport United have also been improving, since Tembo was ushered into the hot seat, and the 26 league goals the club conceded, in the just-ended campaign, was the lowest tally since they conceded a similar number of goals seven years ago.
Hunt was in charge when the club conceded 23 goals during the 2011/2012 season. During the last campaign, SuperSport United goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams, kept the cleanest sheets, with 13, in the 30 matches he played. Widely regarded as a no-nonsense hardman, during his playing days, Tembo appears to be instilling those tough qualities among his players.
The matches between SuperSport and Lantmoville Golden Arrows and Polokwane City and Highlands Park featured 10 bookings, the most such cautions during the season. One of the most loyal football personalities in the world, having spent all his domestic top-flight career at Dynamos and spending the last 20 years at SuperSport United, in various roles, Tembo appears to place a lot of value in loyalty.
He is the coach who used the east number of players, during the just-ended Supa Diski campaign, as he fielded only 26 players while Baroka used 38 and Bloemfontein Celtic used 34 players. There has also been huge improvement, at the other end of the pitch, with the Pretoria side scoring 43 goals in the just-ended campaign.
His team scored as many goals as champions Mamelodi Sundowns while Kaizer Chiefs, who finished in second place, led the way with 48 goals. For SuperSport United, this is a huge leap, in terms of their goal return, when compared to the 28 goals which the club scored, in their 30 games, during the 2017/2018 season.
Tembo appears to have done enough for a longer stay at the club after meeting many of the targets which the club had set for him. “I just want to set the record straight and put the matter of our head coach to bed,” club chief executive, Stan Matthews, told the Daily Sun newspaper last month. “Tembo is going nowhere, and his contract will be renewed at the end of the season.
“How do you keep someone at the club for 20 years and discard them just like that? The man has shown loyalty in all these years at this club for goodness sake. “We want to groom Tembo. “He has done well by introducing young players, not many coaches in the PSL would do that. The man clearly loves this club and he knows it inside and out.”
Matthews said he has always believed Tembo was the right man for the job and the coach now has to make the best of the confidence which the management have invested in him. “This is Tembo’s moment to shine. It’s his chance to impress and for his contract to renew at the end of the season,” he said.
The signs have been encouraging and adding 11 points, from where SuperSport United were when he took over, is an achievement which the club could build on.
It could even have been better, for both club and coach, had they not crashed to a surprise 0-1 defeat to Cape Town City in their final game of the season. That defeat saw them lose third place, and a chance to represent South Africa in the CAF Confederation Cup, as Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates took advantage of the setback.
In the end, SuperSport United finished fifth. However, a 4-1 thrashing of kingmakers Baroka, in their penultimate match of the season, was a great advertisement of the fine work which Tembo has done at the club.
The same Baroka beat eventual champions, Sundowns, and held Chiefs, within two weeks, to virtually decide the championship race.
Source – The Herald
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