by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SIDELINED by injury at a critical time of the season, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe has suffered the extra agony of Supersport United’s season capitulating into disaster.
The central defender has watched the horror show defenselessly from the sidelines since April since he was taken off in the first half of a 1-1 draw away to TS Galaxy at the Mbombela Stadium on March 19.
After spending the entire April and most of this month (May) out of action, the Botswana international is fit and back in contention.
This is a major boost for Matsatsantsa ahead of their crunch match against Orlando Pirates, themselves a wounded outfit after losing the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup final this past Friday.
“It is not a good feeling really,” Ditlhokwe said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
TT, as the player is affectionately known, was expressing the anguish of watching Supersport United struggle amid his absence.
A lot has happened between his injury and return, not least the axing of coach and former centreback and club stalwart, Kaitano Tembo, after a string of disappointing results.
Ex-Zimbabwean captain Tembo signed the towering defender from Township Rollers in neighbouring Botswana in 2020.
The 23-year-old from the northern Gulubane village however downplayed his return and impact in the team.
“But, with or without me, Supersport is still the same. We are one team, one family,” the imposing central defender said.
“We will fight and all shall be well,” Ditlhokwe said.
He was on the bench in Supersport’s last match, a 3-1 loss away to now-relegated Baroka at the Peter Mokaba Stadium
That loss to a Baroka side that bows out with a reputation as a banana skin team, damaged Supersport’s prospects of finishing in the top eight.
Eighth-placed Matsatsantsa’s record 21 consecutive years in that bracket is reliant on their result against Pirates and the postponed KwaZulu-Natal derby between AmaZulu and Lamontville Golden Arrows.
Arrows are ninth, a rung behind United.
Ditlhokwe played the entire match against Pirates as United threw away a two-goal to lead to lose 2-3 defeat in the previous fixture at Orlando Stadium.
Despite the rain-induced postponement this past weekend, fifth-placed AmaZulu had already secured a place in the top eight.
Arrows and Supersport are fighting for the last spot in that lucrative bracket that enables qualification for the MTN8.
Ditlhokwe diagnosed his team’s challenges this crisis-laden season.
The defender has scored one goal this season. It was an injury time winner at home to Maritzburg United last September.
Then, Supersport were second on the log.
This underlines how their fortunes have nosedived.
“I think we just lapsed like any other team can,” Ditlhokwe said.
“It’s a game of football. There are times whereby you just can be off.”
“We must fight again next season so that we maintain our standards,” the centreback concluded.
– CAJ News