Eric Tinkler braced for battle with ex-stars

Fortune Makaringe, left, will tonight be facing Maritzburg United since leaving the team to join Orlando Pirates.
Fortune Makaringe, left, will tonight be facing Maritzburg United since leaving the team to join Orlando Pirates.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates midfield pair of Siphesihle Ndlovu and Fortune Makaringe are set to face their former team Maritzburg United for the first time tonight.

The pair was the driving force behind the high-flying Maritzburg from two seasons ago, and even ensured that they avoid relegation after winning the play-offs in July before leaving.

In their debut season at Orlando Pirates so far, Ndlovu has made five league appearances while Makaringe has featured in eight games. The duo has done well to fight for a place in the Bucs' starting line-up that has a strong midfield that already included Xola Mlambo, Ben Motshwari and Musa Nyatama.

Maritzburg coach Eric Tinkler admitted that part of the reason his team struggled at the start of the season was due to changes in the team that included losing Ndlovu and Makaringe.

"As a team we have made a number of changes over the past few months and we have been able to play the way we want to play," he said.

"Our team is united... even those who are not playing. Part of the reason we struggled a bit early on in the season was because we lost some players and had to adapt."

On Pirates' current form, Tinkler added: "They are Pirates and have a lot of quality. We need to go there and perform. It helps going there with a good form. Our position in the league has improved and that gives us confidence."

After a bad start, United have climbed up from the tail-end of the table to their current ninth position. They are on a five-match winning streak in all competitions that also sees them in the semis of the Telkom Knockout. Their league form is almost identical to that of Pirates, both having three wins and three losses. Only a point separates them as the Soweto giants are on 12 points while United have 11.

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