CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City coach Eric Tinkler has not changed his mind. Earlier in the season, he suggested that Wits will win the PSL title – and, now, after his team had played to a 1-1 draw with the Clever Boys at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night, Tinkler is still of the same opinion.
City top the standings with 46 points, followed by Wits 45, Kaizer Chiefs 45 and Mamelodi Sundowns 44, but Tinkler has rather set his, and his team’s sights, on a top-three finish.
“The advantage is with Wits,” said Tinkler. “I still think they are the favourites for the title. And now that they are out of the Caf competitions, it will give their squad some time to recover.
“For me, the outlook is positive. I think what we have achieved up to now is phenomenal. We have achieved above our expectations. We would love to finish in the top five, but top three is the aim. Look, it’s still far from over, the top teams still all have to play each other. There’s still a lot that has to happen before the season ends.
“For us, the focus is now on the next game. I don’t want to put any pressure on the players. As we have done all season, we don’t plan ahead. We focus on the next one which is Kaizer Chiefs next week. Again, as we have done all season, we don’t plan any game for a draw, we want to win every game we play. And that will again be the approach next week.”
City and Wits played to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining encounter on Wednesday. The visitors took an early lead from the penalty spot, but City, in typical, never-say-die spirit, rattled back to level midway through the second half.
“I have to say that I was disappointed that we dropped the two points,” said Tinkler. “I thought we played very well. We created chances, but, at times, I thought we weren’t positive enough in attack. After we conceded the early goal, it put the pressure on the players. They struggled to find solutions, Wits were defending very deep and it was difficult to get behind them. But we showed character, I knew it would come and we got the goal we needed.”
As for Wits coach, Gavin Hunt, despite Tinkler’s high assessment of his team’s chances, he was having none of it.
“We are under no pressure,” said Hunt. “Teams like Wits shouldn’t be winning the league title – Sundowns should, Chiefs should ”
Hunt, like Tinkler, though, was just as disappointed in the draw. He thought his team should have taken all three points.
“We had it under control,” said the Wits coach. “We had them in front of us all the time, just as we wanted it to be ... the game plan worked, it’s just that we gave a silly goal away.
“The concentration levels need to be high at that stage of the game. But after what we have been through over the last six days I guess it’s to be expected. (Wits had just returned from Egypt for a Caf Confederation Cup match).”
For Hunt, the approach now is simple: Win your home games, draw your away games.
“In this league, at any given time, anybody can beat anybody,” he said. “So the closer you get to the finish line, it’s important not (to) think about the title, just focus on the next game. For us, especially, we have to focus on our home games because when we go away we only have one man and a dog to support us.
“Think about it next week Chiefs come to Cape Town and it’s like a home game to them. That is the difference, and that is why teams like Sundowns and Chiefs are the favourites. Their support at away games is worth a few points.”