In Tin­kler I be­lieve

CityPress - - Sport - Mondli Makhanya mondli.makhanya@city­press.co.za

Ab­so­lutely bullish! That was the mood among The Ghost as Eric Tin­kler steered Or­lando Pi­rates to­wards the fi­nal of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

De­pressed! That was the mood of the very same Bhakaniya each time Pi­rates put on a tepid per­for­mance in the do­mes­tic league, strug­gling to sweep aside teams that should have been swat­ted like lit­tle in­sects.

Ex­hil­a­rat­ing! That was the spirit in the Pi­rates fam­ily af­ter the con­ti­nen­tal gi­ants’ 3-1 vic­tory over the Soweto gi­ants in Oc­to­ber.

That, in short, has been the schiz­o­phrenic life of those who love the glo­ri­ous in­sti­tu­tion that wears black and white. We moved from boast­ful over­con­fi­dence on the eve of the fi­nal to a trea­sonous pop­ulism of the #Tin­klerMustFall cam­paign im­me­di­ately af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle in Sousse last Sun­day.

Sure, Pi­rates have fallen short of achiev­ing ster­ling re­sults in the do­mes­tic league. Sure, the team is cur­rently ly­ing out­side the top eight.

Sure, goals have been as scarce as for­eign na­tion­als at King Good­will Zwelithini’s im­bi­zos. Sure, the Bucs should and could have wrapped up the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal in the first leg at Or­lando Sta­dium.

But we should ac­knowl­edge that Pi­rates are play­ing the most beau­ti­ful foot­ball in the PSL. The road to the Con­fed fi­nal was not just a brave and gritty ride, it was done with style and panache. There were many mem­o­rable mo­ments dur­ing vic­to­ries scored in hos­tile con­di­tions and some­times on parched fields.

Back home, the dropped points were not a re­sult of poor play. On the field, Pi­rates strung to­gether mean­ing­ful and ef­fec­tive passes. The pat­tern of play was lu­cid and en­ter­tain­ing, spoilt only by the fail­ure to find the back of the net.

It is this fail­ure the pop­ulists and heretics are now us­ing to mount a cam­paign to get rid of Tin­kler. Many of them are the same peo­ple who urged chair­man Irvin Khoza to fire Rudi Krol dur­ing his first sea­son be­cause, in their eyes, he was not play­ing Pi­rates’ brand of foot­ball.

After his two back-to-back tre­bles, they were clam­our­ing for Krol’s con­tract to be ex­tended and are now cam­paign­ing for his re­turn.

Tin­kler is in the same po­si­tion: the tro­phy cab­i­net is bare, but the fat years are within sight.

Pi­rates’ cur­rent play is rem­i­nis­cent of the days of Vik­tor Bon­darenko and Kosta Papić – fast and skil­ful.

In the first four months of his first full sea­son at the helm, Tin­kler has shown he un­der­stands the enor­mity and re­spon­si­bil­ity of his task. Without the bur­den of con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion, he will be able to guide Pi­rates to at least a top-three fin­ish, or this lowly news­pa­per­man will buy five lucky City Press read­ers a bot­tle of Main­stay each.

Khoza should stick to the state­ment he made in May that “there is no rea­son to change any­thing, as this might have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on mo­men­tum”.

That rings even more true now. #Tin­klerMustS­tand. #Tin­klerMustRise!

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