Richards Bay FC have released coach Kaitano Tembo from his contract, the club announced on Christmas day.

Bay are battling relegation in second-last place in the DStv Premiership where they have just 10 points from 15 matches having won twice, drawn four times and lost in nine games.

The departure of former SuperSport United and Sekhukhune United coach Tembo, who joined Bay in July, comes after a 1-0 DStv Premiership defeat away against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday that was the KwaZulu-Natal team’s third straight loss in all competitions.

Bay, who have the seven-week Africa Cup of Nations break to try to rebuild their season, said former Lamontville Golden Arrows boss Vusumuzi Vilakazi, who joined the club as a “senior coach” last month, will take over as interim coach.

“Richards Bay FC would like to announce the release of head coach Kaitano Tembo with immediate effect,” the club said on Monday.

“The club would like to thank the coach for his contribution during this season. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

“Senior coach Vusi Vilakazi will take over the first team until further notice.”

Vilakazi’s first assignment is in Bay’s last match before the Nations Cup break against SuperSport United at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on Saturday (3.30pm).

After starting the league season with five matches without a win, Richards Bay had shown signs of life as their two wins of the campaign came in their last 10 matches.

However, they are likely to need 20 to 25 points in the second half of the campaign to avoid relegation or the playoffs, and the club’s management appear not to have had faith that Tembo could deliver such a tally.

Cape Town Spurs, in a disastrous return to the Premiership where they have a win and a draw for four points from 15 matches, have had a worse campaign than Bay.

Zimbabwean-born Tembo joins Brandon Truter (Sekhukhune), Molefi Ntseki (Kaizer Chiefs) and Shaun Bartlett (Spurs) as coaches fired in the opening half of the 2023-24 season.