Despite the declining Zimbabwean quota in the DStv Premiership, the South African top-flight still interests local football fans.
Unlike in previous seasons when Zimbabwean players would light up the South African top-tier with almost every club having a local player within their ranks, the 2023/24 season, which started yesterday, is a different story.
Only seven Zimbabwean players —Divine Lunga, Knox Mutizwa, Washington Arubi, George Chigova, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Ronald Pfumbidzai and Onismor Bhasera —are still in the South African top-tier.
Of the seven, five are at SuperSport United —Bhasera, Chigova, Arubi, Pfumbidzai and Dzvukamanja, while Mutizwa and Lunga are at Golden Arrows and Mamelodi Sundowns respectively.
The presence of five Zimbabwean players at SuperSport will certainly result in the local football fraternity having keen interest on the Pretoria-based side.
Gavin Hunt’s men kick start their 2023/24 campaign against Richards Bay at the Lucas Moripe Stadium this afternoon.
Interestingly, Richards Bay are coached by a Zimbabwean —former Warriors defence stalwart Kaitano Tembo, who is somewhat a SuperSport legend, having been at Matsatsantsa for 23 years.
Tembo played for and captained SuperSport, and was their assistant coach before being elevated to the role of head coach in 2018, before he was shown the exit door in April last year.
Tembo, who made over 200 appearances for SuperSport, is naturally still fond of the Swanky Boys.
The Richards Bay coach has huge respect for his former side and believes they (SuperSport) are good enough to mount a serious league title challenge.
“They (SuperSport) should be competing with teams like Sundowns, I don’t think there is any excuse. But at the same time we have to prepare ourselves properly so that we get positive results,” Tembo told South African media.
Hunt might have a score to settle with Richards Bay, having lost to the KwaZulu Natal-based side in the Nedbank Cup in February 2021 while in charge of Kaier Chiefs —a result he described as one of the worst in his glittering coaching career.