Bat­tle of the coaches

Cape Times - - OPINION -

FOOT­BALL, in its inim­itable won­der, loves to throw up twisty tales of whimsy in du­els filled with de­li­cious irony. A case in point be­ing the two coaches who head­line to­mor­row’s MTN8 fi­nal be­tween Cape Town City and Su­per-Sport United at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Dur­ban: Benni McCarthy and Eric Tin­kler.

When Hanover Park’s McCarthy ar­rived at the Bafana Bafana squad in 1997, Tin­kler was a se­nior mem­ber of the SA na­tional foot­ball team. Al­ready an es­tab­lished star on the Euro­pean cir­cuit, Tin­kler’s ad­vice to the emerg­ing McCarthy would have been in­valu­able. McCarthy, of course, would go to en­joy a stel­lar ca­reer with clubs like Ajax Am­s­ter­dam, FC Porto, Celta Vigo and Black­burn Rovers.

On his re­turn to South Africa in 2011, McCarthy fin­ished off his ca­reer at Or­lando Pi­rates. But dur­ing that year, when Pi­rates made it through to the Telkom Knock­out Cup fi­nal, the coaches of the op­po­si­tion team, Wits, were Roger de Sa and Tin­kler. After that cup fi­nal, there was a highly pub­li­cised spat be­tween the three, with McCarthy ac­cus­ing Tin­kler and De Sa of “dis­re­spect­ing” him.

McCarthy would go to win the striker’s prize at the com­pe­ti­tion’s awards evening, and was quoted as say­ing: “Eric Tin­kler and Roger de Sa are dead to me. I haven’t spo­ken to them since and I don’t in­tend do­ing so. They are non-ex­is­tent in my life.”

Tin­kler ar­rived in the Mother City last year to coach City and was in­stru­men­tal in plac­ing the new Cape PSL club on the path to suc­cess. When he left to join Su­perS­port this sea­son, McCarthy as­sumed the va­cant coach­ing po­si­tion at City – and, now, as the quirky va­garies of foot­ball would have it, the two coaches will sit on op­pos­ing benches in to­mor­row’s fi­nal.

Since 1997, when McCarthy and Tin­kler first met at the Bafana squad, it would ap­pear that it has all been lead­ing up to this. The 2011 spat has been sorted. Tin­kler spoke of the dis­agree­ment be­ing “in the heat of the mo­ment”; McCarthy stressed that “it was in the past”.

But those are just words: Rest as­sured, for both coaches, the mem­ory is tucked away in an easy-to-re­trieve crevice in the mind – and noth­ing will be sweeter with re­gard to an “I’ll show you” than vic­tory in to­mor­row’s fi­nal.

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