Supersport United coach Eric Tinkler instructs Dean Furman during the victory over Sundowns. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG- Despite two wins in three matches from all domestic competitions since taking over at SuperSport United, coach Eric Tinkler says his charges haven’t quite warmed up to his methods yet as they prepare to face high-riding Maritzburg United in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night.

SuperSport have looked exhausted in the second half of all three games - a narrow 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the quarter-finals of the cup, then a 2-0 defeat to Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in their Absa Premiership opener last weekend, before beating Amakhosi again (2-1 this time) in a league clash played on Wednesday night.

“It’s going to take a while for the players to get a good understanding of how I want to play the game, how I want us to defend, press, play on the transition and play on the set-pieces,” Tinkler explained. 

“There’s a lot of things we need to cover. When we played against Chiefs (the second time) we changed our formation, but in the first half I thought the players responded well. One of our primary objectives at the start of the season was telling ourselves we don’t want to concede goals. And possibly mentioning that has kind of put the players on the backfoot because they want to protect what we have.”

As was the case in the opening round of the cup, a game in which striker Jeremy Brockie got SuperSport’s only clear-cut chance early on in the game and buried it, Matsatsantsa were incredibly flat in the second half of the two league matches against Sundowns and Chiefs. And if this persists, Maritzburg, who have won all three of their fixtures so far this season, will likely punish them.

“Our pressing is the problem,” Tinkler reasoned. “You saw it in the first 15 minutes, when we applied the pressure on Chiefs they gave us the ball, but the minute you back off that is where the problems starts because you don’t press the ball carrier and it becomes extremely difficult. But that’s going to take time for the players to get a grasp of and a good understanding in terms of how I want them to play.”

Tinkler said he was already seeing signs that it won’t be long before he is on the same page with his players as evidenced by their first goal against Chiefs on Wednesday.

“We can use that as a primary example. We knew exactly that if we play that ball to the back post we would score. It was a scenario that was created in training. As a coach that is how you judge your team - not whether you win or lose. Did they do the things we practised? And when you see that, those are the positives you can take from the game. The rest you know is baby steps.”

The Star

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