It’s a tricky sequence of games, but SuperSport United head coach Kaitano Tembo is ready to confront what is arguably the team’s toughest test so far in the campaign.
Just four days after Matsatsantsa a Pitori clobbered Orlando Pirates 3-0 in Mbombela, the Tshwane side will face Bidvest Wits in today’s MTN8 quarterfinal, with Kaizer Chiefs also lying in wait for a league match on Saturday.
Tembo told City Press: “These are tough games, but, at the same time, they can also set up our campaign nicely in terms of where we want to be. If we have a good start, we’ll grow in confidence for the rest of the season because we are up against big teams and the players are motivated.”
Tembo said the mandate from the club was “to do better than last season”.
“In terms of cups, we need to try to win one because we got to the [MTN8] final last season and didn’t win it,” he said.
SuperSport lost on penalties to Cape Town City in last year’s decider to claim the winner-takes-all R8 million purse.
“The mandate is always about improving from the previous season. The Wits game comes at the right time because it’s a cup game. With cup games, there is a lot to play for and it’s an instant success with the MTN8.
“It’s fewer than five games and if you win it, you are in the money. So it could be an encouragement for the players to do well,” Tembo said.
SuperSport edged Wits 1-0 in their last meeting – a league encounter – at Bidvest Stadium in August last year.
However, the build-up to today’s Wafa Wafa clash was overshadowed by speculation around the future of Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
The Wits and Bafana Bafana skipper fuelled the fire when he dropped hints this week that he was up for “a new challenge” and that “the [transfer] window is still open, so anything can happen”.
The dots are being connected, and most rumours indicate that he could be heading to Pirates before the transfer window closes later this month.
However, Wits coach Gavin Hunt this week insisted that his skipper was “happy” with the former league champions, but the tactician did not explicitly rule out any transfer possibilities.
For now, Hunt will need the bite from his captain in today’s match at Bidvest Stadium (3pm) to quell the danger from the in-form SuperSport striker Bradley Grobler.
“Winning this cup can make or break the season for a team,” said Hunt.
Meanwhile, Tembo said the trip to the south for their clash with Chiefs will also be a tough assignment for his side when taking into account Amakhosi’s solid start to the campaign.
Chiefs have won their opening two games.