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CAF Confederation Cup

Caf Confederation Cup vs PSL survival: Kaitano Tembo's biggest headache at SuperSport United

6:42 pm AEST 18/4/18
Kaitano Tembo
Goal takes a look at how Matsatsantsa's can turn their season around ahead of their encounter with K'Ogalo

SuperSport United's Caf Confederation Cup match against reigning Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia on Wednesday could prove to be pivotal in their quest to survive relegation from the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The Tshwane giants have endured a miserable season in the PSL which has seen them flirt with relegation since the turn of the year. They are currently placed 14th on the standings - one point above the relegation play-off spot with three games to go.

The appointment of Kaitano Tembo as caretaker coach following Eric Tinkler's resignation early last month, hasn't really helped the team as they have continued to blow hot and cold in the elite league.

However, despite their inconsistent performances in the domestic league, Matsatsantsa have managed to scrape through to the Confederation Cup play-off round with a narrow victory over Angolan side Petro de Luanda in the first round.

SuperSport are heading into the second-leg encounter against Gor Mahia at the Lucas Moripe Stadium having suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Nairobi-based side a fortnight ago, and only a victory at home will see Tembo's men advance to the group stages.

Tembo fielded a second string team which was made up of inexperienced players, probably signalling that he's prioritizing their PSL survival over continental football.

They gave a good account of themselves in Kenya as they were unfortunate to lose after the hosts were awarded a late penalty which was converted by Jacques Tuyisenge.

It will be imperative for Tembo to field his strongest possible line-up on Wednesday because a win over K'Ogalo could spark a return to form for SuperSport and go on to retain their status in the elite league.

Matsatsantsa, who were defeated in last year's Confederation Cup final by DR Congolese giants TP Mazembe, have enough continental experience and quality to overturn the deficit against K'Ogalo if Tembo gets his team selection right.

Furthermore, the five-time Nedbank Cup winners boast a good home record in the Confederation Cup as they are undefeated in their last 10 games having recorded five wins and five draws.

Advancing to the group stages would definitely be a springboard to relaunching their ailing domestic campaign and turn things around in their bid to survive relegation from the PSL.

Booking a place in the group stages of Africa's second most prestigious club competition comes with good financial rewards as well, and this would boost Matsatsantsa's confidence going into their last three league matches.

The three-time PSL champions' last three games look winnable on paper. They're scheduled to host Free State StarsBaroka FC and Chippa United. Having said that, a motivated SuperSport side can beat any team at any given day in the league.

Their vulnerability could somehow work in Gor Mahia's favour, and this is where Tembo will have to be tactically smart. 

At this stage, beating the dreaded axe appears to be more important, but their survival hopes will rest on how well they do against Gor Mahia as it would give the players a renewed sense of belief going into the remaining matches of the season. 

Playing to lose against Gor Mahia is defintely not an option for Tembo, and this is undoubtedly his biggest headache.