The two were on international duty and joined the rest of the squad late and thus might not be fit enough to play the opener
SuperSport United head coach Kaitano Tembo has revealed pre-season concerns about two of his players, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and Gamphani Lungu, ahead of the start of the new season next weekend.
According to the coach, Ditlhokwe will miss the season opener after engaging in the Cosafa Cup. Lungu was part of Zambia’s contingent in the regional tournament, but the coach did not reveal whether he would be available for the PSL first game.
“After our last game against Chippa United, Ditlhokwe went straight to Botswana camp to prepare for the Cosafa and so he was never given a resting period, especially for someone who played week in and week out. I thought they would try and manage him a little bit better, but we can not control that because it is difficult,” Tembo told the media.
“Lungu also went to camp with Zambia but the good thing is that he did not go further in the tournament and that allowed us to give more days to refresh. That is the only setback but now they are back in the fold and we are trying to integrate them into our culture.
“Sometimes when players go, they do different things, but when they come back, we always try to bring them back into the squad and make sure they understand how we do things
“I am quite happy they are here now. Unfortunately, Ditlhokwe will miss the first game of the season. We will give him a little more time to rest.”
Tembo also explained how their pre-season programmes have been running even when they are missing players who were part of the U23 South Africa team in Tokyo. Teboho Mokoena, Ronwen Williams and Luke Fleurs are the players who took part in the global competition.
“The Olympic guys came back on Saturday, so I gave them four days to try and recuperate and spend time with the families,” he added.
“You know it will be a long season and we are preparing not just for the first game. What is important is their recovery, they need to be fresh in order for them to avoid injuries.
“Look, the preparations have been going on well even though we did not have a complete squad for different reasons. We had three players who were participating in the Olympic Games while Lungu and Ditlhokwe were participating in the Cosafa Cup.
“They delayed them from joining the team and they only came last week and the Olympic guys joined this week but we are quite happy with what we have done especially working on the players’ mental toughness, physical conditioning, tactical and technical issues and playing friendly games.
“We have also assessed some young players that we feel will be part of the first team next season. It gave us time to assess them and see where they are.”
SuperSport United will face Golden Arrows on August 14 in the MTN8 quarter-final encounter.