JOHANNESBURG - SuperSport United coach, Eric Tinkler, expects a positive response from his players as they play catch-up in the PSL after their defeat in the Caf Confederation Cup final to TP Mazembe.
Matsatsantsa lost 2-1 on aggregate to the Ravens after playing to a goalless draw in the second leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday to end a gruelling 10 month and 18-match long campaign in disappointment. SuperSport don’t have much time to wallow in their failure however. Matsatsantsa host Ajax Cape Town at Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday to take their games tally from five to six, while some clubs have already played 12 matches in the league.
Tinkler has been in this situation before. He was Orlando Pirates’ assistant coach when they lost the 2013 Caf Champions League final and the head coach in their unsuccessful 2015 Confederation Cup campaign. The Buccaneers’ mental strength was tested after they came close to conquering the continent. Getting over that disappointment is tough on its own, but having to play catch-up on top of that compounds matters.
“I am looking for a positive response,” Tinkler said. “We’ll see if we can get that in the next couple of days when we play against Ajax. Then you will know how it has affected the team, emotionally and psychologically. But obviously we plan to make quite a few changes for that game because we have brought in quite a number of new faces into the squad. I think that we need to refresh this squad a little bit. Now we can really start focusing on our league campaign. That becomes the main objective right now.”
SuperSport have themselves to blame for failing to become African champions for the first time in their history. Mazembe were there for the taking, but Matsatsantsa squandered a number of opportunities in the first leg and then didn’t create enough chances in the second leg.
Ivoirian goalkeeper Sylvian Gbohouo was hardly tested on Saturday, even though SuperSport needed a goal to win. The Ravens’ experience took them to the finish line to become the first club to retain the Confederation Cup. Mazembe frustrated SuperSport towards the end by how they wasted time which saw the finish heated. Senegalese referee Malang Diedhiou sent off Kabaso Chongo and Thuso Phala in the last eight minutes of the match.
“Obviously there’s disappointment from everybody,” Tinkler said. “The players understand the hard work that it has taken to get to this stage. There’s massive disappointment from them and me because when we set out on this journey we wanted to win it and having to finish as runners up is a bad feeling.
"I don’t think that it has anything to do with our lack of experience. I think that it has a lot to do with their experience because we are talking about a team that has won many, many competitions be it the Champions League or the Confederation Cup.
"You could see that to a degree, in terms of the way they played. You also have to give credit to them. There has to be a winner and a loser. Sadly we were on the losing side. But does that make us a bad team or does that make me a bad coach? I don’t think so. Now we have to put it behind us and move on to focus on our next objective which is the league.”