Johannesburg - Eric Tinkler could have savoured the moment on Tuesday night after his Cape Town City side shot to the top of the Absa Premiership table. The coach, however, was anything but ecstatic about recent events - until he was reminded that sitting at the summit, even if its just 11 games into the season, was somewhat of a remarkable achievement considering City are at least 155 days old.
“I am an ambitious person, and I need to be a reflection of that towards my players,” said Tinkler following their 1-1 midweek draw against Kaizer Chiefs. “We are happy right now with being top of the log, but the fact of the matter is it’s 11 games in and it is not at this stage that you say you are going to win league titles. Ask me that same question if we are sitting there with 10 games to go. I will be a happier person than what I am right now because I am well aware that there is still a long season ahead.”
That’s Tinkler for you, a man with a similar focus and hard-to-please mentality as a coach as he had as a player. He even refused to entertain any questions around the Telkom Knockout final on December 10 when City face SuperSport United at a venue yet to be confirmed, saying he did not want to look too far ahead of their league clash against third-placed Bidvest Wits tomorrow night in Johannesburg.
City have upset the odds since owner John Comitis bought the Mpumalanga Black Aces franchise a little over five months ago, with Tinkler replacing Muhsin Ertugral, who had guided the club to an impressive fourth position at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
“We have the Christmas break ahead of us and there could be injuries here and there. All of that can affect the team,” the coach explained. City have been able to hold their own though, recovering from an early season slump to register a seven-match winning streak that was halted by the draw away to Chiefs at FNB Stadium.
The neutrals took note of City as a potential dark horse in the title race when they proved too much for reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns with a 2-1 victory last month, a week after the Brazilians had been crowned CAF Champions League winners.
“I’ve explained to the players that there are two words that are extremely important to me, the first being consistency and the other being complacency,” said Tinkler. “You’ve got to be consistent in your performances if you want to achieve things and the one that shouldn’t happen is complacency, which is what I saw from them against Chiefs. It is also important to show character, particularly where you should have collected three points.
“You shouldn’t be laughing and happy with a point, but rather be upset if you want to achieve things. That’s disappointing for me and that is something to work on and get it out of the players.”
With that kind of hairdryer treatment and pursuit of excellence, City may have enough to be surprise title contenders.