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
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.
Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler’s future appears uncertain for the moment
REVIVAL Pirates’ Thamsanqa Gabuza has been a revelation under Tinkler