Can he steer a Pi­rate ship?

It’s been a year since Eric Tin­kler took over at Or­lando Pi­rates and, de­spite reach­ing a CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal, he has noth­ing to show for it, writes Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

No one re­mem­bers the guy in sec­ond place, goes the old adage, and so it is that Or­lando Pi­rates have noth­ing to show for 2015 af­ter los­ing the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal.

Now the dag­gers have been drawn for the be­lea­guered Eric Tin­kler af­ter a year in charge of the Buc­ca­neers, de­spite him guid­ing the side to a con­ti­nen­tal fi­nal.

Pi­rates’ fail­ure to lift that tro­phy has also been a blow to the coun­try.

This means that only two clubs – Bid­vest Wits and Ajax Cape Town – will take part in next year’s Con­fed Cup. The other two African par­tic­i­pants– Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sun­downs – will play in the Cham­pi­ons League.

The spot­light is firmly on Tin­kler and calls for his sack­ing have gath­ered mo­men­tum fol­low­ing Sun­day’s unin­spir­ing re­sult in Sousse, Tu­nisia.

Tin­kler is yet to win the hearts of Pi­rates’ fans.

He’s been with the club since 2012 as an as­sis­tant to Roger De Sá, and should have done bet­ter by now.

After suc­ceed­ing Vladimir Ver­me­zović in De­cem­ber last year, Tin­kler’s down­fall has been in­con­sis­tent team se­lec­tion. He has shuf­fled and un­packed the team and, as a re­sult, does not have a sta­ble side.

Last sea­son, he won only eight and drew as many. He lost twice in 18 league games. Bucs fin­ished fourth on the Absa Premier­ship ta­ble – miss­ing out on next year’s Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

They also lost to Su­perS­port United in the sec­ond round of the Ned­bank Cup.

This sea­son, they have so far lost four, won three and drawn two games.

It has not been easy to jug­gle the de­mands of the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece and do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tions. They lost the MTN8 quar­ter­fi­nal to even­tual win­ners Ajax Cape Town and were also knocked out of the Telkom Knock­out by Chiefs in the semi­fi­nals.

How­ever, reach­ing the Con­fed Cup fi­nal is still a mile­stone that should be cel­e­brated. Tin­kler’s wrongs and rights

To his credit, Tin­kler be­lieved in Tham­sanqa Gabuza when pre­vi­ous coaches did not give him a chance. The striker re­paid the coach’s con­fi­dence with six goals in the Con­fed Cup, fin­ish­ing as joint top scorer. He has also be­come a reg­u­lar in the Bafana team due to his ex­ploits at club level. Tin­kler de­serves credit for not dis­card­ing him.

But Tin­kler has been caught nap­ping at times with his team se­lec­tion in other cru­cial re­spects. Last week­end, he should have gone for all-out at­tack against Étoile du Sa­hel, as he went to Tu­nisia on the back foot.

In­stead, he was cau­tious in his ap­proach, opt­ing to start with the in­ex­pe­ri­enced Gift Mo­tupa in­stead of throw­ing ev­ery­thing at the vis­i­tors.

Why he left Sene­galese in­ter­na­tional Issa Sarr on the bench is also ques­tion­able.

Tin­kler has been ro­tat­ing Felipe Ovono and Siyabonga Mpontshane in league games af­ter the in­jury to num­ber one goal­keeper Brighton Mh­longo. As much as he wanted to pro­tect Ovono and rest him for the con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion, this de­ci­sion back­fired, as the Equatogu­inean was found want­ing when called upon. He made an el­e­men­tary mis­take that cost the team in Tu­nisia. The de­ci­sion to drop him af­ter he made a costly mis­take against Bid­vest Wits af­fected his game, as he lacked con­fi­dence in sub­se­quent matches.

Tin­kler has de­nied that there is a rift be­tween him and Rooi Ma­hamutsa, but the fact that the de­fender has not fea­tured in the last few games since the match against Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria in Oc­to­ber lends weight to those al­le­ga­tions. Loy­alty does not pay in foot­ball and it was clear that the de­ci­sion to go with Happy Jele ahead of Nt­sikelelo Nyauza was wrong.

Nyauza has not put a foot wrong when called to play, yet he was over­looked when it mat­tered most af­ter play­ing well against Kaizer Chiefs. Tin­kler also se­lected Lehlo­honolo Masalesa – who had missed four games af­ter serv­ing a three-match sus­pen­sion – ahead of Sarr.

Pi­rates lost the Con­fed Cup at home af­ter con­ced­ing a late equaliser. Tin­kler was at fault, mak­ing a sui­ci­dal move by try­ing to park the bus with the in­tro­duc­tion of Sarr in­stead of throw­ing more men for­ward. This af­ter Du Sa­hel had swapped a de­fen­sive player for an at­tacker in search of an equaliser. By in­tro­duc­ing the de­fen­sive Sarr, he al­lowed the vis­i­tors a chance to press for­ward. And Sarr ended up be­ing the man who con­ceded the foul that led to Du Sa­hel’s fate­ful equaliser.

PHOTO: BACK­PAGEPIX

TENSE

Or­lando Pi­rates coach Eric Tin­kler’s fu­ture ap­pears un­cer­tain for the mo­ment

PHOTO: BACK­PAGEPIX

RE­VIVAL Pi­rates’ Tham­sanqa Gabuza has been a rev­e­la­tion un­der Tin­kler

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