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SuperSport coach Tembo excited to see starlets Fleurs and Donn in Bafana squad

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
SuperSport United defender Luke Fleurs has been included in the Bafana Bafana preliminary squad.
SuperSport United defender Luke Fleurs has been included in the Bafana Bafana preliminary squad.
Image: Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo is hoping the inclusion of Luke Fleurs and Jesse Donn in Bafana Bafana’s preliminary squad for next month’s crucial 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia is motivation for other young players.

United's rising stars were surprise inclusions in Hugo Broos’ preliminary squad for the back-to-back matches where Bafana will be looking to maintain their place at the top of Group G.

Donn, 22, has featured in the five matches for SuperSport in all competitions so far this season while Fleurs, 21, has played three matches in the DStv Premiership and one in the MTN8.

“This must serve as a reminder to all young players that there is reward for hard work and dedication and there is always someone watching,” Tembo said.

“Ours as coaches is to create pathways for these young players and show them that if you work hard, you will go far in your career. I can speak about a lot of young players in our academy who you are going to see very soon because I am prepared to give them the platform.

“When I retired from playing, I spent some time in the academy and we lost a lot of young players because when they reached 17, 18 or 19 most of them didn’t know whether they were going to play for the first team.

“At that time we were focused on bringing in experienced players but that has changed. Since I took over three seasons ago we haven’t really brought in a lot of players [as signings] but we have remained competitive through young players. Being at the academy taught me to be patient with these young players.”

An excited Tembo said he backed the young duo last season even though they were inexperienced.

“Like any other coach, I am very happy they have been selected to the Bafana provisional squad. If I take you back to last season, there is a time when we were second or third on the log in the second round but I started playing these young players more regularly.

“They made a lot of mistakes but I knew that was going to happen and we lost or drew most games that we should have won because of those mistakes. I knew we were not going to be out of the top eight and we were not going to win the league, so I stuck with them because I was preparing them for this season.

“With regards to Donn, I didn’t get what I wanted from Lucky Mohomi and that sort of forced me to give him more time and he has a good work ethic at training on a daily basis.

“Fleurs went to the Olympics and I thought he was one of the best defenders there. It was unfortunate that he got a red card but be was solid.

“When dealing with young players you need to trust them by giving them more and more opportunities to show what they can do. You must make them to know that when they have made mistakes, they will get another opportunity to correct them.”

Supersport's 23-year-old Jamie Webber has missed out on selection but Tembo believes his time is coming soon.

“With Jamie, I have always believed he is one of the best technically-gifted midfielders in our league. He is coming out of his shell at the moment because he lacked a little bit of confidence and aggression.

“This is a huge motivation for him. I know before the end of this season he will be called up to the national team because he has always been knocking on the door. 

“He has matured and we are going to see a lot from him this season and beyond because he is one of the best midfielders in the country. We always stalk about Sipho Mbule and Teboho Mokoena but people are going to be surprised by Jamie Webber.”