JOHANNESBURG - Platinum Stars coach Roger de Sa has backed his former apprentice, Eric Tinkler, to pass his final examination in the Caf Confederation Cup, with distinction.
Tinkler, who is now the head coach of SuperSport United, worked as De Sa’s deputy while at Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates. The former Bafana Bafana midfielder and his team, will do battle against DRC Congo’s TP Mazembe, with the first leg on November 17 in Lubumbashi and the return leg a week later on the 25th at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
De Sa backed his former colleague to triumph.
“I’m not surprised by Eric’s success as a coach, he had the best teacher for a while,” De Sa joked. “I’m not surprised at all. We spent about 10 years at Wits and Pirates together.
"Funny enough I had lunch with him on Wednesday. He came to look at our facilities and we will host SuperSport there for couple of days before they prepare for the final. We continue to work closely,” De Sa revealed.
SuperSport are searching for their first continental title, which De Sa believes they will capture this year.
“I personally think SuperSport will win it. I don’t think Mazembe are the same. Their owner is apparently not allowed in the country. That will help a little bit with officiating. They won’t take away TV or the press, the referee’s passport won’t be confiscated and so on. It evens out the playing field a little bit,” said the Dikwena coach.
“The fact that SuperSport are going there first and then come home, it is a big advantage to them to play away first. Having said that, the last two victories for SuperSport were away from home (in the Confederation Cup),” De Sa, who defeated Mazembe on his way to the Caf Champions League final in 2013, explained.
Tinkler was assistant to De Sa that year when Orlando Pirates reached that final. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly 3-1 on aggregate.
Said De Sa: “I wouldn’t be surprise that they win the first round and come here with a lead. SuperSport have it in them to win the trophy. They have a fantastic squad and they are fantastically organisation. They are very professional.
"The fact that they going to come here and camp with us for three to four days just to get used to the heat and the astroturf, just shows you how serious they are about this competition. I only wish more teams and coaches took this type of competition seriously.
“That’s what we need in our county to develop players to play internationally. We need to get our players playing club internationals as well, so that we groom them to be better footballers. It will even make our Bafana Bafana team stronger. We must get behind these teams. I hope all South Africans will go and support SuperSport this time around,” De Sa pleaded.