DURBAN – Supersport United will remember the year 2017 for its bitter-sweetness.
The first half of the year brought great success while the second half was pretty miserable for Matsatsantsa a Pitori.
As they try to turn the corner and get themselves out of a rut that sees them and victories being like the parallel lines of a railway line - destined never to meet, perhaps coach Eric Tinkler should try find out what it was that SuperSport did right in the early half of last year.
That period brought with it the coveted Nedbank Cup, won under the guidance of Stuart Baxter while Tinkler came and added the MTN8 trophy to the cabinet.
As though that was not enough, SuperSport also reached the Caf Confederation Cup final where they lost to the DRC’s TP Mazembe.
All those dizzy heights are now something of a distant memory as Matsatsantsa struggle with form and have gone seven matches without a win. It’s been two months now since they last tasted victory, their last win coming way back on November 29 against Ajax Cape Town.
They lost again at the weekend, to Golden Arrows and Tinkler feels that his side’s lack of confidence and self-belief is the reason behind the poor form.
“I think the anxiety of not winning games has created that nervousness and a little bit of no self-belief in the players. Confidence doesn’t seem to be there.” That much was evident against Arrows and SuperSport paid for it.
“In the first half we didn’t look confident on the ball. Those are things we need to work on. We got punished from the one mistake we made. But my players are only human. Obviously they feel the pressure. No player likes losing. No team likes losing. But it is up to us to bounce back. That’s what is important.”
That chance presents itself as early as tomorrow when they take on Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
“We are here for this week and we will try and rebuild the team spirit in the squad and bring back the self-belief,” Tinkler explained. “We will try and bring the (positive fighting) spirit back. That is key is to do it right now.”
Looking back at the Arrows match, he feels his team were their own worst enemy.
“We looked a bit nervous and cagey which is disappointing because I don’t think anybody put them under pressure to feel that way. That’s the way the players seemed to be responding, especially in that first half. We seemed to be nervous and afraid to attack them. In the second half we attacked and we looked better, much much better, we created opportunities.
They got to get that belief back in. I don’t know why that belief is gone,” Tinkler elaborated.
He knows just how tough Maritzburg will be though.
“Everybody is on the up in the league. If you finish on 55 points you will win the league. That’s the way I see it. Maritzburg are a very good team and are playing well. But I think we tend to up our game when we play the teams that are doing well.”
SuperSport will have to rekindle some of the magic from the first half of last year if they are to beat Maritzburg and bring a wretched run of form to a halt.