Golden

Tin­kler has trans­formed key Pi­rates play­ers into fine-tuned goal-scor­ing ma­chines

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: TREVOR KUNENE

ON TAR­GET Ker­mit Eras­mus is among the lead­ing scor­ers in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup

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