Tin­kler is aware of what is ex­pected of him at City

Has al­ready had a word with his good mate De Sa about the wind ...

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

ERIC TIN­KLER fin­ished his open­ing week at the helm of the Mother City’s lat­est PSL club, Cape Town City, and pro­claimed him­self more than happy with the en­thu­si­asm and in­ten­sity of the squad.

He has just 15 play­ers at the mo­ment, but the 45- year- old Tin­kler is al­ready hard at work, in con­junc­tion with club boss John Comitis, to beef up the squad in prepa­ra­tion for the new PSL cam­paign.

As a club, City was es­tab­lished af­ter Comitis bought the top-flight fran­chise of Mpumalanga Black Aces. The for­mer Ajax Cape Town codi­rec­tor moved his new team to the Cape, ush­er­ing a breath of fresh air into the re­gion’s foot­ball.

It is no se­cret that the Mother City has been in des­per­ate need of an­other PSL team, not just to ri­val Ajax but also to en­sure the many tal­ented young play­ers in the re­gion have an­other topflight club to as­pire to.

Comitis has big plans. He’s a highly- ex­pe­ri­enced foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tor and, when launch­ing the club two weeks ago, he re­vealed some lofty am­bi­tions for the club.

But as Comitis will know, their form on the field is what counts. It doesn’t mat­ter how much good work goes on off the field, it’s win­ning matches and re­tain­ing their PSL sta­tus that is cru­cial. Cape Town’s foot­ball fans are a fickle bunch but if City get it right, there’s a fan base out there des­per­ate for some­thing pos­i­tive.

Ini­tially, Muhsin Er­tu­gral, the Turk­ish coach who in­spired Black Aces to fourth po­si­tion on the PSL stand­ings last sea­son, was slated to steer City’s de­but sea­son. Comitis has a close re­la­tion­ship with Er­tu­gral and was keen to see the Turk con­tinue.

But Er­tu­gral was of­fered the po­si­tion he has always wanted – Or­lando Pi­rates coach – and he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. So, with Er­tu­gral leav­ing for Pi­rates, Comitis ap­pointed Tin­kler, the coach who took the Buc­ca­neers to the fi­nal of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup in Novem­ber last year.

Tin­kler is the pug­na­cious cen­tral mid­fielder who played an in­te­gral role in Bafana Bafana’s 1996 Africa Cup of Na­tions suc­cess. He had a stel­lar ca­reer as a player, with spells at Wits in South Africa be­fore go­ing on to achieve great suc­cess in Europe at Vi­to­ria Se­tubal in Portugal, Cagliari in Italy and Barns­ley in Eng­land.

His coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence kicked off in the youth de­vel­op­ment academy of Wits, but he quickly found him­self in the spot­light when his big mate, Roger de Sa, took him to Pi­rates as an as­sis­tant coach. De Sa and Tin­kler went on to take the Soweto club to the fi­nal of the pres­ti­gious African Cham­pi­ons League in 2013.

When De Sa left to join Ajax, Tin­kler stepped into the hot seat at Pi­rates, where he cer­tainly showed he has what it takes to coach at this level, and that he has the com­po­sure and char­ac­ter to han­dle the pres­sure as­so­ci­ated with such a high-pro­file po­si­tion.

Now, he finds him­self with a new and de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent chal­lenge at City. Far from be­ing daunted, it’s a test that Tin­kler is rel­ish­ing.

“I’m aware of what’s ex­pected,” he said. “It’s ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent to coach­ing a team like Pi­rates, but I’m quite fa­mil­iar with the sce­nario I find my­self in.

“I was in the same po­si­tion back in 2007 when I was at Wits, and they won pro­mo­tion to the PSL. It’s the same type of plan­ning that is needed. The most im­por­tant thing is not to panic… be­cause it is when you panic that you tend to make the wrong de­ci­sions.

“Right now, we only have 15 play­ers, but we are re­build­ing slowly. We still have a few weeks to pre­pare for the start of the sea­son, which we will use to strengthen the squad.

“We have the foun­da­tion from the strong Black Aces squad of last sea­son… it’s a good foun­da­tion, but we will beef up in the com­ing weeks.

“We’ve been train­ing for a few days now and the in­ten­sity has been great. Rest as­sured, we will be ready, tac­ti­cally and tech­ni­cally, when the sea­son kicks off.”

While Tin­kler was happy with the core of the Black Aces team that Comitis pur­chased, he ad­mit­ted there were ar­eas that needed strength­en­ing. He par­tic­u­larly men­tioned the de­fence – es­pe­cially at left-back – while he was also looking at the at­tack force.

City are next week set to com­plete the sign­ing of right- back Karabo Litabe from Royal Ea­gles, while Tin­kler is also run­ning the rule over Ge­orge­born striker Len­nox Bacela,

Bacela has worked with Tin­kler be­fore, at Pi­rates. He is cur­rently on trial, but a de­ci­sion still has to be made on whether he will be signed or not.

With this be­ing Tin­kler’s first stint work­ing in Cape Town, he’s tapped De Sa’s brain for some in­sight. “Roger’s been telling me about what it’s like liv­ing in the city… but through­out my trav­els in Europe in my play­ing ca­reer, I’ve always never been a friend of the wind, so I guess that’s go­ing to be some­thing I have to get used to.

“But I’ve always been aware of the foot­ball ta­lent in the Cape. Back when I was work­ing with Wits’ youth, it was always to Cape Town we would come to scout for play­ers,” he added.

“I think, ob­vi­ously, the big prob­lem, when it comes to pro­fes­sional foot­ball, is that fi­nance plays a role. As a re­sult, Cape clubs can’t hold on to their ta­lent… I sup­pose that’s just the reality of the modern game. A foot­baller’s ca­reer is short and lim­ited, and a player has to make the most of it fi­nan­cially.”

But the ar­rival of City in the PSL, and Tin­kler’s pres­ence as coach, does pro­vide an in­trigu­ing edge to foot­ball in the Cape. With the friend­ship be­tween De Sa and Tin­kler, and the an­i­mos­ity be­tween Comitis and cur­rent Ajax own­ers, the Ef­s­tathious, the Cape derby is again a much- an­tic­i­pated affair. It’s cer­tainly a sali­vat­ing prospect ... so can the new PSL sea­son just start al­ready!

BACKPAGEPIX

ON THE JOB: Eric Tin­kler is keen to sup­ple­ment his squad of 15 – par­tic­u­larly in at­tack and de­fence.

DI­DIER DESCHAMPS: Pedi­gree of a win­ner

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