Coach Kaitano Tembo of Supersport United celebrates after winning the tournament during the MTN8 final match between Highlands Park and SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, October 5 2019. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES
Coach Kaitano Tembo of Supersport United celebrates after winning the tournament during the MTN8 final match between Highlands Park and SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, October 5 2019. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES

Kaitano Tembo not only dedicated winning the MTN8 trophy to his grief-stricken striker Thamsanqa Gabuza but to all the coaches he has worked with and learnt the ropes from before he was appointed head coach of SuperSport United.

Gabuza’s son died earlier in the week but he kept the news from his teammates, not wanting to disrupt the players ahead of the final on Saturday.

It is the former combative Zimbabwean international defender’s maiden senior trophy as a coach after losing  on penalties to Benni McCarthy’s Cape Town City in the same tournament in 2018.

SuperSport beat Highlands Park 1-0 at the Orlando Stadium in what was the club’s third successive top eight final appearance‚ having also won it in 2017 with Eric Tinkler‚ who was assisted by Tembo‚ at the helm.

The top eight trophy was the third that SuperSport have won since they were formed in 1994 and it is the seventh piece of silverware they have collected in 11 finals in the Premier Soccer League era.

Tembo‚ who rose from the lower structures at SuperSport to eventually assume the head coach role‚ mentioned former Bafana Bafana coaches — Pitso Mosimane‚ Gordon Igesund‚ Stuart Baxter and Bidvest Wits mentor Gavin Hunt — as some of those who have played a vital role in his playing and coaching career.

“I’ve worked with a lot of coaches‚” said the 49-year-old Tembo after Bradley Grobler’s header on the stroke of halftime gave his team victory.

“Throughout when I was the assistant coach I always made sure that I support whoever I worked with and I learnt as much as I can. I’ve worked with Gavin Hunt‚ I’ve worked with Gordon Igesund‚ worked with coach Pitso and I’ve worked with Stuart Baxter.

“I believe in having mentors who I can call. I can call Stuart at any time. He’s always there to help me because he’s been there‚ he’s seen it.

“I can speak to Gavin any time regarding players. I can speak to Pitso and Igesund because there’s that trust which was built in all these years. They trust and they believe in me. I also thanked them because without them I will not be where I am today.

“Sometimes you learn from bad situations and you learn from good situations as well. That has happened throughout my career.”

Touching on how they won the match against a Highlands Park side that attacked  from the first whistle‚ Tembo admitted they did not have a good start but it did not matter because they managed to strike at the right time.

Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams “kept us in the game. They could have scored early. One on one with the goalkeeper and Ronwen‚ I think that’s why he’s Bafana Bafana’s No 1‚” said Tembo.

“We knew that we needed to be a little disciplined because Highlands Park are a very hard-working team‚ organised as well as disorganised because they apply man-marking in certain areas

“So we needed to apply a little bit of a surprise in terms of our movement. I think the moment we did that we scored the goal where Tebza [Teboho Mokoena] just went through the channel and put in a cross and we scored from that. We scored at the right time. That really shocked them.”

Tembo further highlighted Gabuza’s role in coming back to help in defending Highlands’ aerial treat.

“We nullified their treat which is a long throw and again Gabuza played a huge role there because we put him on [Mothobi] Mvala because Mvala scores most of his goals with his head‚” said Tembo.

“So we knew if we can nullify that he was not going to be effective for them and Gabuza was very much instrumental. Even on set plays‚ corner kick and free kicks‚ Gabuza was very instrumental and we defended very well.”