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SuperSport coach says centre-backs held the fort amid injuries

Tembo defends fumbling veterans Daniels, Khumalo

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Siphelele Luthuli of Bloemfontein Celtic challenged by Siyabonga Nhlapo of Supersport United during the 2020 MTN8 Semi Final 1st Leg match between Supersport United and Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria, on 01 November 2020.
Siphelele Luthuli of Bloemfontein Celtic challenged by Siyabonga Nhlapo of Supersport United during the 2020 MTN8 Semi Final 1st Leg match between Supersport United and Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria, on 01 November 2020.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

To say SuperSport United defence has been shaky in the past two matches against Golden Arrows and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively would be an understatement.

In these two aforementioned games, SuperSport leaked in four goals. Arrows beat them 3-1 in the league last Wednesday and Celtic frustrated the Tshwane side with a 1-all stalemate in the first leg of the MTN8 semifinals at the weekend.

The main culprits for Matsatsantsa’s disorganised rearguard have been the tried-and-tested central defensive duo of Bongani Khumalo and Clayton Daniels. The experienced centre-backs have evidently failed to form a formidable partnership at the heart of defence.

The 33-year-old Khumalo and Daniels, who is three years older, tend to play too far apart from each other, leaving a gaping hole in between them. The duo’s lack of pace also makes matters worse.

Nevertheless, Matsatsantsa mentor Kaitano Tembo still heaped praise on the ageing centre-backs, insisting they had stepped up to the plate in the absence of injured fellow centre-backs in Grant Kekana, Luke Fleurs and Thatayaone Ditlhokwe.

“Look, I think to be fair on them, I think they have played four tough games. It has been very difficult but I need to give them credit. We’ve had few injuries…Luke Fleurs, Grant Kekana as well as TT Ditlhokwe. I think they [Khumalo and Daniels] have stood up, taken responsibility,’’ said Tembo.

The SuperSport coach is of the view that Khumalo and Daniels improved in the second period against Celtic, where Ndumiso Mabena drew the first blood in the 14th minute, before Ghampani Lungu cancelled out his strike early in the second-half at Lucas Moripe Stadium.

“I thought first-half we were caught a little bit [out of position] but in the second-half we got better and that’s a positive we can take,’’ noted Tembo.

Khumalo and Daniels will certainly be eager to get their act together when SuperSport host Stellenbosch in a league tie at the same venue tomorrow (7.30pm).

Meanwhile, Celtic coach John Maduka hinted they may rest some players for the Wafa Wafa semifinals return leg, billed for Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday, when they welcome Orlando Pirates at the same ground tomorrow (7.30pm).

“We will check, players may have some knocks [from the SuperSport clash]. It’s important for us to introduce fresh legs against Pirates. We’ve been playing every three days, so it’s important to go to the game against Pirates refreshed,’’ said Maduka.

Maduka also confirmed goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane was taken to hospital after sustaining what looked like an eye injury in the second-half against Matsatsantsa. He was discharged yesterday.

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