JOHANNESBURG - Eric Tinkler’s affiliation to Orlando Pirates runs deep. But such is the distorted allegiance of coaching that he’ll have to put his personal ties with the Bucs on hold when they visit his Cape Town City side at DHL Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Since his four-year stint at Pirates – which involved two continental finals, the CAF Champions League in 2013 and Confederation Cup in 2015 – it’s probably safe to say that Tinkler has grown in leaps and bounds.
That growth, though, has come with success and downfalls. As a result, his return late last season to the Citizens – the side he inspired to their first silverware five years ago – was about recharging his batteries.
Tinkler helped City reach the MTN8 final on Wednesday, hammering Swallows FC 4-0 away from home as they won the tie 4-0 on aggregate after the 0-0 draw at home.
With City high on confidence and eager to take the winning momentum to the league, there couldn’t have been a worst time for the Bucs to visit. Pirates are not at their best. Last weekend they lost 2-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns.
City’s performance against the Dube Birds in Soweto showed flashes of how they are nigh to running like a well-oiled machine in the engine room, following the return of ace Thabo Nodada. The Citizens’ anchor bagged two second half assists.
That lifted the pressure off the shoulders of players such as Mduduzi Mdantsane and Thato Mokeke.
The former has embraced the No 10 jersey, getting a nod for Bafana Bafana’s provisional squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Perhaps one player who has stood out for City this term is Terrence Mashego. The left back has been exceptional, making telling runs and crosses into the box. He assisted
Bradley Ralani’s first goal against the Birds.
Mashego’s efforts have paid dividends he’s in the Bafana squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia this month. But Mashego and Co can’t afford to be complacent against Pirates.
After all, Pirates strikers Vincent Pule and Tshegofatso Mabasa have also been called up to the Bafana squad. Mabasa, notably, has been impressive for Pirates, chipping in with two goals in his last three games.
Mabasa is expected to lead Bafana’s line. He’s an ideal No 9 – aerially, physically and he has pace. He’ll want to assemble for the national team camp high on confidence. That will mean banging in the goals against the Citizens tomorrow.
However Pirates’ defence has been leaky.
Their problems stem from changes in their goalkeeping unit following injury to their number one, Richard Ofori, during a national team camp.
Stand-in goalie Siyabonga Mpontshane hasn’t been convincing either. He conceded three goals in the last three matches. The inconsistent performances have added to the pressure on caretaker coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids.
The sooner the duo change Bucs’ fortunes, the better will be their chances of getting the coaching role on a permanent basis.