Kaitano Tembo


Supersport United assistant coach Kaitano Tembo has added his voice to the growing chorus that has backed Evans Rusike to explode at the club with the former Zimbabwe vice-captain rating the forward as a quality striker.

Kaitano Tembo

Rusike arrived at SuperSport United on the eve of the closure of the January transfer window and was immediately handed his debut when the 2017 Confederation Cup runners-up fell 1-0 to Ovidy Karuru’s AmaZulu.

On his second start for SuperSport United, the former Maritzburg United striker struck his first goal for his new side as they came from behind to hammer Bloemfontein Celtic 4-2 last Saturday. Rusike picked a loose ball from a wayward pass by the Celtic defence in the 39th minute and found his mark.

On Tuesday, Maritzburg United coach Fadlu Davids revealed he rated Rusike highly with the Team of Choice mentor also backing his argument for the player with some statistical analysis.

“Evans is a fantastic player. Just last week‚ before he was sold‚ we looked at the stats. Not in terms of goals and assists‚ but in terms of elements that are important to us. We look at the statistics and‚ you know‚ it’s (Mamelodi Sundowns forward) Percy Tau on top and him second‚” Davids was quoted as saying by The Sowetan.

“He’s one of the best strikers in the league and congratulations to SuperSport — they’ve got a fantastic player. He scored for them on the weekend.”

Yesterday, Tembo backed his countryman to excel at the Pretoria club. In beating Celtic, who are home to Ronald Pfumbidzai, SuperSport stemmed a four-match winless streak that had begun to heap some pressure on them.

Super Sport had been struggling for form since their Confederation Cup defeat to TP Mazembe in November. But Tembo believes their win over Celtic and the arrival of Rusike who has replaced Jeremy Brockie, signalled a turnaround as SuperSport seek to glide away from the bottom end of the 16-team log table.

The victory helped Matsatsantsa to jump two places up from 13th to 11th place with 24 points from 20 matches with Tembo believing the win will bring back their confidence levels which had taken a deep in the last month.

“The win was a huge morale and confidence booster for the team because we have been playing well, creating good chances in previous matches we have played. I would say it was a good change of fortune.

“As for Evans it’s always good to have a good start when you join a new club and I’m happy that he did that. We know the quality he has and the qualities he brings to the team and fits perfectly well in terms of our playing style,” Tembo said.

He said although Rusike arrived at a time when SuperSport were at a low, the 27-year-old Warrior had not been subjected to any pressure to quickly deliver.

“He was never under pressure to perform immediately from us, but he showed determination, great attitude, professionalism and good work ethic and those are qualities associated with good players,” Tembo said.

Rusike’s arrival at SuperSport United also virtually ended the Pretoria outfit’s interest in Christian Joel Epoupa with the big Cameroonian returning to Dynamos after two successive bids to join a South African club fell through. Epoupa had first tried his luck reigning Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits, but he had an abortive trial stint after incurring an ankle injury.

Epoupa has since returned to pre-season training with DeMbare with whom he still has a year left on his contract. Meanwhile, Maritzburg United will not sign CAPS United striker John Zhuwawu whom they wanted to come in as a replacement for Rusike.

“No, we not signing him and we’ll inform him about the decision today. We have to change things now that Rusike is gone and find different ways, find different formations, different structures to be able to score goals,” Davids told Kick-Off.

“Of course I can say that we lost Rusike in this transfer window and we cannot replace Rusike. But we have to find attacking options, as I have said, probably at the end of the season to be able to compensate for that.”



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