Eric Tinkler continues to believe in Maritzburg survival miracle

25 February 2019 - 16:06
By Nick Said
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is confident of survival.
Image: Thinus Maritz Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is confident of survival.

Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler believes the second half display of his side in their 3-2 defeat to Cape Town City on Saturday should give them hope of survival this season after a weekend in which results went very much against the KwaZulu-Natal side.

A 3-2 victory for Free State Stars at Bloemfontein Celtic and a surprise 2-1 success for Baroka FC at SuperSport United leaves Maritzburg in deep peril at the foot of the table.

They are now five points behind Stars in the relegation play-off position‚ and have played a game more‚ and six points from Chippa United in absolute safety.

They must still play Mamelodi Sundowns‚ Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates this campaign‚ though five of their nine remaining games are at home.

"The positives are the way we played the second half‚” Tinkler says.

“We showed more urgency and played more to instruction. We looked to press the fullbacks higher and the minute we were right up against them‚ they became less of a threat.

"We didn't have urgency in the first half.

"Our analysis of Cape Town City showed they look to press from the front‚ play with a lot of speed and aggression‚ and we knew we had to match them in those areas. We didn't in the first half.

"The test was always going to be how we reacted in the first 15-minute period and you could see they restricted themselves‚ too scared to go forward‚ too scared to make a mistake. When you do that against a team like City they will punish you.”

Maritzburg are next in action against AmaZulu on Saturday‚ but will likely be without captain Brian Onyango‚ who picked up a groin injury against City‚ and fellow centre-back Rushine de Reuck‚ who received a second yellow card after a fracas that caused a stoppage in the game when both benches became involved.

"We were chasing the game‚” Tinkler says.

“The ball goes out for a throw-in and our player [De Reuck] goes to fetch the ball. The City player‚ [Matthew] Rusike‚ throws the ball away and it is only normal‚ out of frustration‚ that he is going to push the guy. It's only normal.

"What does it lead to? My player getting a second yellow card and sent-off. Did Rusike get a card? No. Then you've got the analyst [Rayaan Jacobs] also coming and tripping and pulling my player over. What is he doing there?

"It's sad how it ended‚ to be honest. It's shocking. We need to be more protected in those areas. I was disappointed with what happened there with the officiating. He [referee Kulasande Qongqo] lost control of the game."