Tinkler fears his Maritzburg players could lower their guard in the playoffs

15 May 2019 - 10:19 By Tiisetso Malepa
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is asking his players to kick on for the final push as they bid to save their Absa Premiership status in the playoffs.
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is asking his players to kick on for the final push as they bid to save their Absa Premiership status in the playoffs.
Image: Philip Maeta

Eric Tinkler fears that his Maritzburg United players could lower their guard and underestimate their opponents from the National First Division when their playoffs campaign get underway in the coming days.

Maritzburg will play first division runners-up Royal Eagles and the team which finished third Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in the promotion playoffs that kick off on Wednesday.

Having finished second from bottom in the just completed season‚ Maritzburg now have a second bite at the cherry to retain their lucrative Absa Premiership status as they take part in the three-team mini-league promotion playoffs.

“Playing against NFD teams is a different ball game. You have got to have a different mindset‚” said Tinkler.

“The fear factor that I have is that you start lowering your level (when you play against NFD teams) and you cannot afford to do that.

“You have got to maintain professional standards‚ PSL standards and if we can do that then we can beat the NFD teams.

“But if you go there and you want to match up with them‚ playing their brand of football‚ dropping your level of football then you are going to come up unstuck‚” added the former Chippa United coach.

While Maritzburg will be a totally open book for both Eagles and TTM by virtue of their footage being readily available and accessible‚ matches in the NFD are not televised and the two teams may prove to be a closed book for Tinkler’s men.

“We have played Royal Eagles in a friendly match during the time that I was here‚ so we do have an idea of both of them‚” said Tinkler of his two opponents.

“Our first game is at home against Eagles on a Sunday and then we have got to travel to Venda.

“Those two first games are very important and what we get out of them is extremely important at home and away.

"It can make our job a lot easier.

Tinkler has a full week to prepare for their first match on Sunday.

The players gave their all in the last three league matches of the season‚ winning two and drawing one.

Whether they still have enough left in their tank will only be established on Sunday‚ but Tinkler is confident that the players understand what is at stake.

“It’s about survival‚” said Tinkler when asked if his team will have the legs after going the full distance during their relegation dogfight.

“We are going to have to.

"You have got to show the character and the willingness right now.

"The good thing is that we have got the whole week to rest and prepare.”

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