“I am a winner,” Maritzburg United’s coach Eric Tinkler said with a straight face followed by a naughty laugh to the question of what’s the secret behind his Midas Touch.. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
“I am a winner,” Maritzburg United’s coach Eric Tinkler said with a straight face followed by a naughty laugh to the question of what’s the secret behind his Midas Touch.

Tinkler has a knack of leading teams to history-defying feats. The 49-year-old led Cape Town City to their first trophy in the club’s history, the 2016 Telkom Knockout which was also their first appearance in a Cup final. He has repeated that feat by leading the Team of Choice to their first Telkom Knockout final appearance, and the club’s second ever Cup final having lost in the final Nedbank Cup two seasons ago. At SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates he led those teams to the final of the Caf Confederation Cup, in 2015 and 2017 respectively, for the first time in the clubs’ histories. He lost both those continental finals, but the Maritzburg are confident that they can bring silverware to the KwaZulu-Natal midlands for the first time. To do that, they will have to beat Mamelodi Sundowns in the final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on 14 December. Maritzburg booked their place in the final with a 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday.

“I want to win things,” Tinkler said. “I want to achieve things. That needs to rub off on the players and my expectations are high. My expectations are very, very high. That’s why I came in at halftime, leading 1-0, and I was screaming and shouting, and I was angry because I expect more. I expect better. And it’s not because I am asking for something that they aren’t capable of. If they were incapable of it, I wouldn’t be asking for more. But I know that they are capable and it’s about them stepping up and they did it today (on Sunday).”

Maritzburg outplayed Amakhosi on Sunday. If they weren’t so wasteful in front of goal, they could have embarrassed Chiefs.

“I am very happy for the team and also for the club,” Tinkler said. “This is a club that’s reaching the final only for the second time in their history. Hopefully we can end it off by lifting that trophy. I think that today’s performance was absolutely fantastic, and it would have been a gross injustice if we didn’t win this game. If I look at the first half, five, six, clear-cut chances that we should have scored from. We should have come in at halftime comfortably in the lead. Our transitions were exceptionally good and defensively they didn’t really cause us many issues.

“We could have done better in certain moments.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane