SuperSport United’s place on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) standings at the halfway mark may be something to celebrate, but coach Kaitano Tembo says the three-time league champions are a few points short of the haul they targeted at the start of the season.
The Tshwane giants came from behind to force a share of the points against Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend and go into Wednesday’s home league encounter against Orlando Pirates in Atteridgeville sitting pretty in second position on the PSL table.
They trail city rivals and leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by four points, but can close the gap to a point with a win over Pirates though they would have played two more games than the champions.
“In terms of where we wanted to be‚ I think we are three or four points short because we always want to get two points per game‚” Tembo said as he ran the rule over his team’s season so far as they prepare to welcome Pirates to Lucas Moripe Stadium (5pm).
“So now at the halfway mark we have played 17 matches and we probably should be on 36 points‚ but we are on 32‚ so we are four points short. But overall there is quite an improvement from last season‚ though there is still lot of football to play.”
Tembo is in his third season in charge of SuperSport, and has already established himself by winning the MTN8 in his second season in 2019 after losing in the final the previous year.
But it is the PSL title that any ambitious coach and club sets out to win.
The 50-year-old Tembo is well poised to push champions Sundowns in this race‚ despite the departure of influential players at the end of last season and many injuries in the new campaign.
SuperSport lost captain Dean Furman‚ key utility midfielder Aubrey Modiba‚ veteran defender Clayton Daniels and attacking midfielder Thabo Mnyamane, but the inexperienced and youthful players brought in have so far impressed under the wings of senior players.
“This time of the season to be where we are should be an achievement because it is like a rebuilding process‚” said Tembo. “If you lose top players you start rebuilding again and that is what we have been doing and still managing to stay competitive as well.”
SuperSport won the last of their three successive PSL titles in the 2009/2010 campaign.
They finished sixth and fifth in the league in the past two seasons under Tembo, having made bright starts only to fall by the wayside.
They have been unsuccessfully trying to dislodge Sundowns at the pinnacle over the years but lost or drew matches at crucial stages when they needed to win to keep up with the chase.
“I think we have not done that especially in previous seasons where we were three or four points behind the leaders and when we needed to win a game‚ it’s either we lose or draw.
“Losing points at crucial moments‚ I think that has been a huge disadvantage for us [over the years].”
SuperSport have won nine matches‚ drawn five and lost three in their 17 league outings ahead of the clash against Pirates.
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