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United confident for derby rematch

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“It will always be a difficult game, but we need to equal their pressing because they’ve got very good pressing players”

Kaitano Tembo is optimistic ahead of SuperSports Sundowns rematch. Picture: BackpagePix

With a chance for revenge over arch rivals Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo cut an optimistic figure yesterday ahead of their MTN8 semi-final clash.

SuperSport’s 2019/20 campaign began badly as they were hammered 2-0 by Sundowns in a Premiership encounter at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium.

Down but not out, Matsatsantsa A Pitori dusted themselves off and went on to win league matches against Orlando Pirates (3-0) and Baroka FC (2-0), while also defeating Bidvest Wits in the quarter-finals of the MTN8 (3-0).

In their second league match since the Sundowns loss, Tembo’s troops snatched a point from Kaizer Chiefs in a 1-1 away draw to move up to fourth in the PSL.

“Sometimes you can have a good start and sometimes you can have a bad start, but what was important for me in that game was the performance, attitude and fitness level of the players, to see if we could build from that game,” Tembo said.

“There’s always going be a progression in terms of our performance. There’s a number of players that have also come in. But it’s still early days.”

With SuperSport gradually gaining confidence, they find themselves in a position to avenge their biggest blemish this season when they meet Sundowns in an MTN8 semi-final first leg at the Moripe Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

However, Tembo is well aware that beating the record nine-time PSL champions won’t be a walk in the park, hence they have to be offensive in their approach.

“It will always be a difficult game, but we need to equal their pressing because they’ve got very good pressing players,” he said.

“We work as a team and that’s the core of our structure. On the other hand, Sundowns have good individual players who can change the game. We have that as well but we mostly rely on the team. We also need to use the ball very well, keep it longer because they don’t like defending.”

Having been with Matsatsantsa A Pitori for almost two decades as a player and coach, there are few people who know the ins and outs of the club like Tembo.

His plan since taking over the coaching reins permanently last season has been to use youngsters from the club’s academy structures.

As such, Under-23 duo Sipho Mbule and Teboho Mokoena have been their backbone in the engine room so far this season.

However, the Zimbabwe-born mentor is well aware that youngsters are bound to be inconsistent from time to time, but they have to manage them.

“It’s not easy (to manage young players). But it’s not about me individually, it’s also about the club, together with the senior players that we have,” Tembo said.

“Young players need to realise that they are always as good as their last game. So that’s the message that we always need to send to them.”