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