There are lessons other PSL teams can learn from Maritzburg‚ says Eric Tinkler

SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler. File photo.
SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler. File photo.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Maintaining their levels of performance ensured that Maritzburg United survived the Premier Soccer League (PSL) relegation-promotion playoffs to retain their status in the highest echelons of South African football‚ coach Eric Tinkler revealed.

Often PSL teams struggle to survive relegation against National First Division (NFD) sides in these playoffs.

Maritzburg coach Tinkler said his side won through to maintain their top-flight status because players took his warnings to heart about the danger of undermining NFD teams.

“You need to be professional and I think our players were all professional‚” said Tinkler after his side confirmed their stay in the PSL with a 2-0 win over Royal Eagles at the Chatsworth Stadium on Wednesday.

Ahead of that game Tinkler’s side had already beaten Eagles at home and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila away and only needed a point in Wednesday’s penultimate playoff fixture to keep their status.

“If you look at it historically‚ how many PSL teams have actually survived [these play-offs]?. Not many‚” Tinkler said.

“That was always the danger. But I think what happen is that you drop your level as a PSL team.

“It was important to remind the players not to drop their level because if you do that then it becomes 50/50.

“I think the players responded‚ they were very professional in terms of their application and attitude.”

Tinkler said he was happy to retain the team’s position in the PSL ahead of their final playoff match against TTM at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday.

“I’m obviously very happy to get the job done. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights since my arrival. There was a lot of sleep deprivation but hopefully I can sleep now.

“It’s important to have that sense of relief that we’ve got the job over and done with as soon as we have.

“I’m very‚ very proud of the players‚ technical staff‚ club chairman and the fans.

“The fans have been absolutely phenomenal and you wish you will see more clubs in the PSL with the fans so passionate like in this club‚ hence this club doesn’t deserve to go down.”

Tinkler said he has no reason to doubt his future with the Team of Choice after helping them to survive the axe.

“I have no reason not to want to stay with the club‚” he said. “But that’s still in negotiation with the club. That’s not my concern.

“Why are you asking me about how I’m going to deal with approaches from the other teams? I deal with myself. That’s always been my philosophy.

“I have a belief in myself and what happens‚ happens. You’ve got to move on. That’s life.”

The former Orlando Pirates‚ Cape Town City and Chippa United coach said he didn’t really want to take the Maritzburg job when it was first offered to him.

“The first time I was asked I actually said‚ ‘No’‚ believe it or not‚” he said. “I actually said ‘no’ because I needed to sit and look at the squad and watch one or two games.

“Having done that I said‚ ‘Yes I think this squad can survive’.

“Was it a risk? I don’t think it was a risk because I have come to a very established‚ well organised and well run football club.

“Unfortunately there are clubs in this league that need to learn the lessons from this club.”

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