Eric Tinkler: Maritzburg will survive the chop. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Maritzburg United will face an uphill battle if they hope to contain log leaders Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium tonight (kick off 7.30pm).

Maritzburg are rooted at the foot of the table with 20 points after 26 games, while the Sea Robbers are on top of the table on goal difference, ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns, with 50 points after 27 games.

The Team of Choice have to bring the red-hot Buccaneers down to earth to enhance their chances of surviving relegation.

Coach Eric Tinkler is still optimistic that they will survive the chop come the end of the season.

“I still believe that we can avoid relegation. I will always believe. That’s the person I am. We will fight until the end. Now we have four cup finals so we can’t be selective. It is another tough game against Orlando Pirates.

They should be motivated to play against Pirates. The win is even more important. It is about our survival. Collecting three points is extremely important,“ Tinkler explained.

The Buccaneers are brimming with confidence. They have amassed three victories on the trot.

“Pirates are beatable. Everyone is beatable in this league. We saw SuperSport United beating Mamelodi Sundowns.

“We’ve seen it throughout the season as long as you apply yourself in a right manner and you need to have that belief,” he added.

Maritzburg will be looking to get back to winning ways after dropping three crucial points against Highlands Park in their previous encounter.

“The players are well aware of the situation they are finding themselves in. You will never eradicate that. It is all about how you deal with it. We have to respond in a positive manner. We shouldn’t panic. It all about playing with no fear.

Unfortunately, that's what I saw against Highlands Park. We played with fear going forward. Defensively we’ve done well. We knew that they are going to play long balls and we knew that we had to deal with a second ball. We did well until 77 minutes.

We didn’t attack enough and that comes as a result of fear of losing. It is time to get that out,“ Tinkler elaborated.

The Team of Choice are boasting a decent record under the tutelage of Tinkler at home. They have lost one game in five league outings. Tinkler has registered four victories.

“We seem to change our mindset when we are playing at home. We seem to play a lot more attacking football. Truth be told when I arrived, the team had only scored six goals. My focus each and every week was on the offensive side of our game.

Leading to the game against Highlands Park, I focused more on defence. That’s where the problem was,” Tinkler said.

Tonight's game is expected to be a cracker. The two teams are in desperate need of points for different reasons. “We’ve got to be clinical in our last matches. We have to work on that.

I will rather win this game 5-4,” Tinkler concluded.


The Mercury

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