JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 04: Eric Tinkler as interim coach during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits from Orlando Stadium on February 04, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images)

Eric Tinkler has admitted that becoming the permanent head coach of Orlando Pirates is “in the back of my mind” but is well aware that his first task is to prove himself worthy of the Buccaneers top job.

Tinkler got off to a fine start as interim coach at Pirates following the resignation of Roger de Sa, a brave attacking second-half switch sealing a 2-1 Absa Premiership win over Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium.

The former Bafana midfielder can now enhance his head-coaching curriculum vitae further with victory over Mamelodi Sundowns today(Orlando Stadium, kick-off 8.15pm), with both sides needing the three points to put some kind of pressure on runaway leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

“What I need to be doing is to give the chairman reason to employ me on a full-time basis as head coach,” said Tinkler yesterday.

“Obviously it is in the back of my mind, but I am well aware it will only happen if I bring positive results.”

Tinkler is expecting a difficult game against the Brazilians, though he also expects plenty of attacking football, given that both sides badly need the win.

“It is going to be a very tough game, a very open game, because they also know they have to win. They got a result against us last season (Sundowns won 1-0 at Orlando Stadium) and that will be in the back of their minds. We expect a very tough game, but at the same time we know the importance of getting the three points.”

Against the Clever Boys on Tuesday night, Tinkler showed a bold coaching touch, when he brought on Kermit Erasmus to partner Helder Pelembe in attack, with the Buccaneers 1-0 down. And it paid off, with both Pelembe and Erasmus hitting the back of the net, as Pirates turned the game on its head.

“These are variations that we practise. Kermit has played in that position a number of times, and he can play in a deeper position in a 4-3-3 (system),” said Tinkler, not giving anything away about his plans for Sundowns.

The Pirates coach did admit that both their strikers finding the net was a boost for Pirates.

The Bucs frontline has struggled this season, and this was new-signing Pelembe’s first for the club, while Erasmus notched up only his second league goal in 11 appearances. Both have been preferred of late to Lennox Bacela, who has 11 goals for the season in all competitions, but only one in the league, and his form has faded.

“It was good for us (for Erasmus and Pelembe to score), because we need our strikers to be scoring, it is good for their confidence. Pelembe has only played a couple of games and the fact that he scored on Tuesday night is positive for us. Hopefully he can build on that,” said Tinkler

“We have always recognised that he is a good striker and so is Lennox, he just needs to regain his confidence.”

Pirates are currently 13 points behind Chiefs, with four games in hand, thanks to their exploits in the Champions League last year. Win all those games, and the gap at the top will be down to one, but Tinkler is taking it one match at a time.

“Every game we play we must target three points, we can’t be looking at games in hand, because wins in those are not guaranteed,” said Tinkler, who will be without suspended midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo for this evening’s encounter.

“He is a big miss for us,” said Tinkler. “We were disappointed with the way he got the yellow card (against Wits). He slipped and unfortunately the referee saw it as yellow. But these things happen, and at Pirates we have depth.” - Saturday Star