Tinkler has transformed key Pirates players into fine-tuned goal-scoring machines
Orlando Pirates’ consistently high rate of return on goals is in stark contrast to national coach Shakes Mashaba’s complaint about Bafana Bafana’s lack of scoring prowess.
Bafana crashed out of the recent Cosafa Cup without a goal in regulation time in their matches against Botswana and Malawi.
By contrast, Pirates have scored 15 goals in six CAF Confederation Cup fixtures so far.
The strike trio of Kermit Erasmus (four goals), Thamsanqa Gabuza (three) and Lehlohonolo Majoro (two) have scored nine between them.
Gabuza was this week called up to Bafana as a late replacement for Tokelo Rantie, who failed to honour his call-up. Mashaba had initially called on Erasmus, but the marksman declined, if his tweet of “Im [sic] not no [sic] backup player” is anything to go by.
Nonetheless, Erasmus and co have been doing the business in front of goal and it was inevitable that Mashaba would look to Pirates to fill Rantie’s space in yesterday’s Afcon qualifier against Gambia.
The Buccaneers’ potent firepower in the continental second-tier competition comes on the back of the team’s haul of 46 league goals in the recent campaign where Pirates finished the season as the highest-scoring team.
It was Pirates’ best return in front of goal since the 52 they netted in the 2004/05 season.
To get a better idea of Pirates’ new-found scoring prowess, coach Eric Tinkler pointed at the team’s unimpressive goal-scoring statistics in the previous seasons as one key aspect that the technical staff had refined.
“We identified our weaknesses from the previous season and one of those was the [lack of ] goal scoring.
“We have worked extremely hard and there is massive improvement,” said Tinkler after his side annihilated AS Kaloum Star of Guinea 4-1 last Saturday en route to a 6-1 aggregate win that earned them a berth in the Confederation Cup group stage.
“Finding the back of the net has been our strength and we’ll continue working on that. We made sure that it fits in well with the various formations we have tried – the 4-3-2-1, the 4-3-3 or the 4-4-2,” he added.
Tinkler arrived at Pirates in September 2012 as assistant to Roger De Sá, who resigned in February last year.
The former Bafana midfielder has been at the helm since he took over as caretaker 15 months ago. He took on the role of interim coach when Vladimir Vermezović resigned in December last year.
Under Tinkler, Pirates finished the season with five goals more than champions Kaizer Chiefs.
Pirates had averaged 40 league goals a season when they had Bafana’s all-time leading scorer, Benni McCarthy, in their arsenal.
In his three-year spell at the Buccaneers – between 2011 and 2013 – the now-retired striker netted 13 times in 43 games despite battling injuries in his final days with the club.
But the last time Bucs produced a Premiership top scorer was at the end of the 2003/04 campaign when Benedict “Tso” Vilakazi finished with 19 goals in all competitions – 13 of them in the league.
ON TARGET Kermit Erasmus is among the leading scorers in the CAF Confederation Cup