JOHANNESBURG - Eric Tinkler says he is anxious that SuperSport United are beginning to fall behind the chasing pack in the PSL title race, but the reality is his team are a side in transition and will improve over the next four matches.
Matsatsantsa dropped points yet again at the weekend following a goalless draw against Kaizer Chiefs in Nelspruit, a result that left them 11 points adrift of log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns after 12 games.
“That’s obviously a concern,” said coach Tinkler, even though SuperSport still have to catch up on three fixtures. “But we have to be realistic about where we have been and where we are currently and the young boys we are bringing in. The team is going through a bit of a transitional phase, and to be honest I have been very impressed with what I have seen.”
SuperSport have hobbled along since losing in the final of the CAF Confederation Cup against TP Mazembe towards the end of November, winning just one league game on the back of that continental disappointment.
“It bodes well for the club moving forward that the younger players are coming in and doing well,” said Tinkler, whose side face Bidvest Wits on Wednesday night in a fixture that was postponed last year to accommodate their busy CAF schedule.
“They are gaining experience and this is important. Hopefully once we get a better understanding of each other the team can only get better. I think you will see a stronger team in the next three or four matches.”
The coach was referring to the inclusion of Teboho Mokoena (20), Sipho Mbule (19) and Darren Smith (21) to the senior team. Mokoena and Mbule in particular have looked impressive, while Smith looks a bright prospect after making only his second appearance for the club on Saturday since he joined from the Ajax youth academy.
“This club has always been proud in producing young players, and that is always going to be an objective of the club - otherwise why have an academy? It wouldn’t make sense,” said Tinkler.
“So we want to bring them in, Sipho has stepped up, Teboho has stepped up. Darren isn’t from the academy, but a player I knew from Cape Town. There’s quite a few more coming through that definitely have the talent.”
Part of SuperSport’s lacklustre showing since late November has to do with injuries.
“When you’ve got injuries like we do at the moment to certain key players, this is where the opportunity now arises for them to show what they are worth. If you had to ask me whether I would have used those players if they had been available (against Chiefs), probably not, to be entirely honest,” the coach added.
“Thabo Mnyamane is a key player, Bradley Grobler is a key player to us and Thuso Phala, who came on in the last 30 minutes, Clayton Daniels - these are all senior and important players to the squad, that we currently don’t have, but the others must show their value.”