Eric Tinkler after stunning title-chasing Chiefs and Wits: 'It’s massive'
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler came to Johannesburg on a quest to earn a minimum of two points but was not surprised when his charges exceeded expectation to claim the scalps of the more fancied Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits in the space of a few days.
Maritzburg returned to Maritzburg with the full six points after first stunning Wits courtesy of Thabiso Kutumela’s solitary goal a few days ago‚ and then spectacularly pulling the rug from underneath Premiership leaders Chiefs' feet through a Daylon Claasen’s brace in a 2-1 victory on Saturday evening.
The win against Chiefs‚ in particular‚ was celebrated by rival fans as it stopped the pace-setting title hopefuls in their tracks.
“In this league you’ve seen (that) anybody can beat anybody in this league on the day‚" Tinkler said.
“It all depends on how much you want it.
“What’s got them (Chiefs) where they are right now has been hard work and they’ve got to continue if they want that title.”
The delighted Maritzburg coach was very thrilled to have won the two games against title-chasing sides ranked above them on the standings.
“It’s massive‚” said Tinkler.
“I think I would have been happy with two (points) because you’re playing Wits‚ which is obviously a title contender.
“You’re playing (Chiefs) a team that’s top of the log. You’re hoping that you can come (to FNB Stadium) and get something.
“To come here and obviously dominate in the way we did at Wits and collect the three points was a fantastic performance.
“I was extremely happy with that.
“And then (against Chiefs)‚ slightly lucky but I will take the luck‚ you know‚ because many times it’s been on the opposite end for us.
“So we’ll take the luck and take the three points.
“I’m very‚ very proud of the of the players to come to Johannesburg and collect six points.
“It’s a fantastic achievement.”
Although Tinkler was not happy with the team’s first half performance against Chiefs‚ he accepted the blame for trying to force his players to play in a way they didn’t quite understand‚ with Siyanda Xulu playing in front of the back three.
In the second half Tinkler sacrificed Xulu and brought in Pogiso Sanoka at right-back to play with a flat four and that’s when they started to have more influence and scored the crucial goals against Chiefs.
“We had to keep soaking up pressure in that first half and I thought Richard (Ofori‚ the goalkeeper) kept us in the game‚” said the former Bafana Bafana midfielder.
“I explained to Siyanda that it’s not his fault‚ it’s mine. I didn’t get it right tactically.
“We needed to go back to our normal formation.
“And I thought we started to function after that in the second half.”
Tinkler will hope that his team continues to function efficiently when they visit Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank Cup Last 16 tie in the Free State on Saturday.
Maritzburg‚ who remain sixth on the standings with eight games‚ play their next league match at home against Stellenbosch FC on February 28.