JOHANNESBURG – It could have been simply an angry reaction to going four league matches without a win, but SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler has questioned the commitment of his players following their 3-1 defeat to Baroka FC on Sunday.
He’s also warned that their title hopes could end prematurely.
“We are behind the targets we have set for ourselves,” said Tinkler. “If we do what we have done in the last couple of matches, then we are obviously not going to be there as title contenders.
“We have to up our game by matching the opposition in desire and passion, and this (poor run) has to end.”
SuperSport put in a rather tepid effort at the Peter Mokaba Stadium to be mauled by a struggling Bakgaga outfit that ended their own seven-game winless run.
Tinkler will be expecting a reaction from his men against Bloemfontein Celtic in their last game of 2017 at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Wednesday night.
“But wins don’t come as easy,” the coach said.
“There is not a big difference in the quality of players in this league, to be entirely truthful. Your application has to be very good.
“Your desire has to be very good, and the fact that we are a team that has been very successful of late, we are the team to beat because everyone comes highly motivated against us.”
SuperSport have, however, only managed one win since this year’s Caf Confederation Cup final, where they lost to TP Mazembe over two legs.
Since creating that bit of history, the reigning MTN8 champions have only beaten Ajax Cape Town, played back-to-back draws against Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City, were narrowly beaten by Free State Stars last week and were thrashed by Baroka at the weekend.
“If we don’t match them (the opposition) with effort, the same desire and passion, then we are going to come unstuck. And that’s the harsh reality in this league,” Tinkler added.
“That is why you find Bidvest Wits at the bottom of the log, when they were league winners last season. The desire and passion needs to be there because nothing has changed.
“We are doing exactly what we were doing when we were successful MTN8 winners and going as far as we did in the Caf tournament. We haven’t changed anything.
“So you have to now obviously question the commitment, the desire, the determination and the will.”
At one stage this season, with several games to catch up on and their impressive display in the Confederation Cup, SuperSport stood out as a team that could potentially run log-leaders Mamelodi Sundowns close in the title race.
Their last five games suggest they may have to dig a little deeper to convince everyone they can play catch-up and still take the title chase right down to the wire.
“We had targeted 14 points from the six games we had in hand,” Tinkler said. “And we haven’t achieved that, which is obviously extremely disappointing from my side.
“But is it the end of the world? No. I don’t look at the fact that we have five games in hand, but I look at what we have achieved so far.
“We have 10 games and collected 15 points (13 behind Sundowns), so it’s massively important for the players to switch back on when we come back from the Christmas break.
“We need this to regroup, but we have one more game against Celtic, where we need to show more commitment.”