Troubled Maritzburg dangle financial carrot before players in a bid to avert relegation

Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is confident of survival.
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is confident of survival.
Image: Thinus Maritz

Maritzburg United have offered financial incentives to their players should the club pull off what seems close to a mission impossible surviving relegation this season.

United chairman Farook Kadodia‚ though‚ said he did not want that to be the sole motivation for the players as the desperate‚ last-placed KwaZulu-Natal team host title-chasing Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night.

Maritzburg‚ in 16th on 20 points‚ are four points behind 15th-placed Baroka FC with four games to go.

Asked if the players have been offered bonuses to survive relegation‚ Kadodia told SowetanLIVE on Tuesday: “It is part of the package‚ without a doubt.

"The thing is I just don’t want that to be the main motivation for the players.

“We’ve done a lot in terms of building motivation for the players.”

Maritzburg could hardly have envisioned themselves in this position after what seemed a breakthrough season in 2017-18‚ finishing a benchmark fourth and reaching a first cup final in the Nedbank Cup‚ losing 1-0 there against Free State Stars.

The coach who oversaw that campaign‚ Fadlu Davids‚ was gone by December having won just one game.

He is now Pirates' second assistant to head coach Milutin Sredojevic.

A disastrous four defeats followed under Muhsin Ertugral‚ and by the time Eric Tinkler arrived in late January Maritzburg were 10 points behind the other relegation battlers.

United have significantly improved under Tinkler‚ who has added three more victories – all at Harry Gwala.

But a team under pressure have also lost five times in the former Pirates‚ Cape Town City and SuperSport United coach’s eight matches.

“What Eric has done is change the attitude of the players. I think the attitude from the beginning of the season‚ in the first half‚ was that the players were still in the clouds‚” Kadodia said.

“And the first two or three months under Fadlu that was his biggest challenge – to get the players to be grounded.

“I think it eventually changed once Eric came in. The response that he had was a big change from under the other two coaches.”

Pirates lead the PSL but have defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns breathing down their necks.

The Buccaneers have been given some torrid outings on previous trips to the compact‚ 12‚000-seater Harry Gwala in recent years‚ where Maritzburg can attract 50 percent or more of their own supporters even when the big three teams visit the KZN side.

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