United and Citizens to bring hard grafting passion
After years of learning and experiencing the game from the touchline, Tinkler is ready to dominate SA football, writes
IT DOESN’T surprise SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler that his former boss, Orlando Pirates’ chairman Irvin Khoza, holds him in high regard and wasn’t keen on losing him.
Khoza paid Tinkler, who is on the verge of taking a second team to the final of the Caf Confederation Cup, a glowing tribute and revealed that he begrudgingly accepted his resignation letter last year. Tinkler decided to jump ship after the Buccaneers hired Muhsin Ertugral, which would have seen him return to being an assistant, a position he outgrew after taking Pirates to the Confederation Cup final in 2015.
The 47-year-old coach opted instead to join the ambitious Cape Town City. He built a strong team and stunned the football order by finishing third in the league and winning the Telkom Knockout with the newbies.
“My relationship with the chairman has always been very, very strong,” Tinkler said. “It goes all the way back to my playing days at Bafana Bafana. I am very proud of what he has gone and said to the public. But I pride myself in that any club that I have represented or coached can never have a bad thing to say about me because of who I am as a person and how I apply myself as a professional. Nobody can ever point an accusing finger at me (and say that I didn’t give my all). It doesn’t surprise me that the chairman would say that.”
Khoza’s words and Tinkler’s accomplishments with the Citizens WHATEVER Supersport United and Cape Town City lack in glitz, glamour and pedigree they will make up for it with their common desire for success, the ambitions of their coaches and modern attacking football when they meet in the MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban tomorrow night.
In the absence of traditional crowd pullers Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, this clash on neutral territory will appeal more to the young, modern supporter who values more the hard graft and attacking and defensive disciplines than the went a long way in proving his detractors wrong. Tinkler’s rise at the Buccaneers, having arrived there as Roger de Sa’s assistant, was met with a lot of scepticism with many arguing that the coach who holds a Uefa Pro License, was out of his depth.
The argument was that he didn’t earn that promotion, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time, picking up the pieces after De Sa and Vladimir Vermezovic’s resignation. That thinking ignored the years the former Bafana anchorman spent earning his stripes. Tinkler got his first “coaching job” as an 18-year-old at Damelin before he served as an assistant at Bidvest Wits and shaped the club’s academy.
“It was Jorge Lobo, who was a referee in the old NSL days and is now a match commissioner, who ignited the first spark. Lobo is also a school teacher. He is at Crawford now,” Tinkler said. “Then he was at Damelin. When he heard that I was coming there, he called me into his office and asked me to play for the college team. He wanted me to not only play for the team but also coach them and select the team.”
Tinkler continued: “I have always had people doubting my competency, since I was a youngster at the age of six when I started playing football. My father was a coach. The other players would say: ‘Ah, he is only playing because his father is the flashy stuff.
There will be fancy moves, too, with Thuso Phala of Supersport and Teko Modise of City capable of dishing it out, but moreso passion and determination are the key ingredients, as emphasised by the clubs’ assistant coaches.
Supersport are all about trophies, and this outing is a mere pitstop en route to their upcoming Caf Confederation Cup semi-final, second leg away, to Tunisia’s Club Africain next weekend, as they attempt to transfer their domestic success onto the continent.
City, on the other hand, are young and ambitious and eager to ride on the early success of their coach’.
“I lived that throughout my life. To make matters worse, I am a redhead. I was constantly called ginger-top, this and that. It never affected me. I focused on what I believed in and who I am.”
That self-confidence and thickskin laid the foundation for the no-nonsense midfielder Tinkler was in a professional career that started at Wits, took him to Portugal, Italy and England before he returned to the Clever Boys as a 35-year-old qualified coach in 2005,
getting his coaching badges throughouut his playing career.
But he had to wait before he could practice as a coach after former Wits’ chief executive Dereck Blanckensee convinced him to join the club as a player and an assistant coach.
Tinkler thought he finally got his coaching break when Boebie Solomons was dismissed in 2007. Wits’ management had other ideas, giving him the job on an interim basis before he returned to being an assistant upon Roger de Sa’s reappointment.
“I came in at a very difficult time after Boebie left. We weren’t getting the results. Slowly but surely the team was dropping into the relegation zone.
“I learnt a lot about myself and who I wanted to be during that spell. Truth be told, that first experience showed me that I wasn’t ready (to be the head coach). My approach was wrong. That was the learning curve. You don’t get that often. I was fortunate to get that opportunity and learn from it. I think that was key, debut season’s Telkom Knockout achievement.
If the weather gods play ball, after a day of lashing rains and gusty winds that wreaked havoc across KwaZulu-Natal earlier in the week, then there should be plenty lightning and thunder under the Moses Mabhida arch come 7pm.
“As Cape Town City we are grateful and privileged to be in another final. We’re in the second year of existence and in our second final in 12 months, so there’s big excitement,” said Ian Taylor in Durban yesterday.
“The TKO is still fresh in our minds and there’s history here with Eric (Tinkler) being our coach last season and Benni
possibly had it not gone the other way around, and I was offered the head coach job then, maybe I wouldn’t have achieved what I have achieved because I wouldn’t have recognised my mistakes or had the opportunity to remedy them.”
Tomorrow night at Moses Mabhida, Tinkler will be in search of his second trophy in two seasons at the expense of his former team, the Citizens, in the MTN8 final. There’s also a crucial trip to Tunisia in the second leg of the Confederation Cup semifinal to look forward to. Every accolade Tinkler has, he earned through hard work with nothing handed to him.
“That’s who I am. I have always believed in myself. I work hard. I know that because of what I achieved as a player. I wasn’t the most talented or the most skilful. But I achieved what I achieved through hard work and dedication. I’ve applied the same philosophy as a coach.” (McCarthy) being the coach now ¦ it makes it mouthwatering.
“Eric has coached a lot of our players and Benni is great, reaching his first final after just 10 games in charge.”
In the build-up McCarthy has said it boils down to whichever team wants it more. And more is what the Pretoria outfit want.
Individually as a coach Tinkler craves success, and he couldn’t have found a better match in Supersport, according to his deputy Kaitano Tembo.
The Zimbabwean was a player for Supersport when they won their only top eight trophy in 2004, when it was known as the SAA Supa8.
This will be a fourth finals appearance, and going by their current trophy form – they lifted the Nedbank Cup in June – Supersport will be favourites.
“We want to play in all the competitions – we’re going to Tunisia next, which is a big stage – and we last won this cup in 2004 so we want to correct that,” said Tembo.
“We have assembled a squad of good professionals, with players who still want to achieve, like the Yeyes and Furmans,” he said in reference to veteran midfield duo Reneilwe Letsholonyane and captain Dean Furman.
“Eric brings a lot of experience in terms of the vision of the club. He’s very openminded, very ambitious and easy to work with.
“As head coach this is his third spell after Pirates and Cape Town City, but he’s very experienced in Africa.”
Supersport might shade City in terms of experience, but in captain Robyn Johannes, fellow defender Thamsanqa Mkhize, who recently broke into the Bafana Bafana set-up and Modise, they have plenty wise heads to guide the rising stars like Ayanda Patosi, Lyle Lakay and Thabo Nodada.
And with McCarthy’s winning mentality to orchestrate things from the touchline, City will punch above their weight to make it an interesting contest.