Why Eric Tinkler prefers to face Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium

Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is interviewed after the Absa Premiership match between Cape Town City FC and Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is interviewed after the Absa Premiership match between Cape Town City FC and Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium on October 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images

Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler wants his charges to be ‘brave’ when they face on-form Kaizer Chiefs in the semifinals of the Telkom Knockout at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday.

Tinkler is well aware that they have a difficult task on their hands as Maritzburg make the long trip from their base in Pietermaritzburg to Nelspruit to face an Amakhosi side riding the crest of the wave on the back of an impressive run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

The last time Chiefs lost a competitive match was in September 14 when they were beaten 1-0 by Polokwane City in the Absa Premiership and Tinkler said they must play without fear if they are to beat Amakhosi.

“We need to go there and be brave and not play with fear‚” said Tinkler on Tuesday as he readied his team.

“We know how strong they are‚ we know that they are having a great season and we know that their confidence is very high‚” said Tinkler.

The Maritzburg coach said he expects Chiefs to continue playing direct football and take advantage of the height of Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro.

“They are different to what they did last season‚ they are a very difficult team and you can’t compare to be honest‚" Tinkler said.

"Samir Nurkovic has come in and he is offering them something different.

"I think they are a more direct team than what they were in the past because of the height he (Nurkovic) gives them together with Leonardo Castro.”

Chiefs have been in good form but the same can be said about Maritzburg who are unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions where they won five and drawn two.

“We came through three games in seven games recently and we felt that we needed to give them a rest‚ the coach said.

"I gave them the weekend off but the intensity in training on Monday was massive‚ which is what I did not expect.

"It is the same today (Tuesday).

“It shows that everybody wants to try and get into that 18-man squad which is what you want.

"We haven’t lost in seven games and players must also understand that you don’t want to change a winning team‚ so you just have to manage the players.

"Keeping all the players happy is the hard part‚ they will always be criticism that you should be playing this one or that one.”

Tinkler said that he would have preferred to play Chiefs at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg because they tend to slip up there.

“No matter where they go‚ they enjoy home ground advantage but their record at FNB Stadium isn’t that great‚" he said.

"Obviously we would have preferred to play them there but I like Mbombela because it is a fantastic stadium.

"The surface from the last time we played there against SuperSport United was great.

"That will help us because of the brand of football we want to play and it will help them to make an entertaining match.”

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