United coach Tembo urges his players to ignore the events playing out at newcomers TTM
Premiership newcomers Tshakhuma Madzivhandila (TTM) have dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks but their opponents SuperSport United are determined to avoid getting caught up in the storm when the two sides meet in an MTN8 quarterfinal match at Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday.
Cautious United coach Kaitano Tembo urged his players to focus on their preparations and not allow the ensuing upheaval at their opponents to distract them from the task at hand.
“We have tried by all means not to be sidetracked by what is going on in their camp because that has got nothing to do with us‚” said Tembo‚ who is defending the MTN8 trophy he won last season.
“We need to really try and focus on our ourselves and make sure that we prepare very well for this game. We must focus on ourselves and go there with the right mentality and frame of mind because this game is very key for us.
“Their situation makes it even more dangerous for us because a lot of players who have gone there will want to prove themselves.”
TTM have been in the middle of storm for weeks now and it escalated a few days ago when coach Norman Mapeza surprisingly quit in a huff after spending only a few days at the Limpopo-based newcomers.
The 48-year-old told TimesLIVE this week that he decided to cut his few days stay with TTM short after realising that he would not have enough time to fine-tune the team to the standard and level of his liking.
“I’m back at home now‚” Mapeza told TimesLIVE from his home in Harare without providing granular details on why he left.
“(It was) just a professional decision. I thought I couldn’t build a team under three weeks which was going to compete to my liking. (There is) nothing much to it.”
Technical director Joel Masutha and Lucky Nelukau have been asked to step in following Mapeza’s departure and they will be on the bench when TTM face United.
Tembo admitted that he doesn’t know what to expect from TTM.
The newcomers are expected to be different from the side that completed the season in the PSL’s bio-bubble and played in the promotional play-offs.
“We know very well that it’s not going to be an easy game‚ in fact‚ it is probably the most difficult game that you can face on the first day of the season‚” he said.
“That is for one simple reason that we are playing against a new team and we don’t really have an idea of what kind of a team we are going to come across.
“It is quite a difficult but at the same time our preparation will be very key.
“In terms of our preparations‚ it was not ideal but we have to do what we can because we had only three weeks to prepare coming from the bubble.
“I don’t really think that we lack much in terms of match fitness because we only gave our players one and half weeks break after the end of the season.
“In terms of fitness‚ I think our players are in good shape and at the same time we never really changed our team.
“We only had a few departures in Dean Furman‚ Thabo Mnyamane‚ Thabo Qalinge and Aubrey Modiba‚ but the core of the squad is still around.
“We have brought in a few new players like goalkeeper George Chigova from Polokwane City‚ Iqraam Rayners from Stellenbosch FC and two youngsters Keenan Phillip and Mpho Mathebula from Bidvest Wits.
“They are gelling well but it may take a bit of time for them to really get going. We are happy with their progress at the moment.”
Source: ARENA Holdings.