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Maritzburg must be fearless


Team of choice will be looking to get back to winning ways against Buccaneers

Eric Tinkler, coach of Supersport United during the 2017 Caf Confederations Cup Final Press Conference at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Atteridgeville South Africa on 24 November 2017. Picture: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

MARITZBURG United will face an uphill battle if they are entertaining hopes of containing log leaders Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium tonight in their PSL encounter that kicks off at 7.30pm.

Maritzburg are rooted at the foot of the table with only 20 points after 26 games while the Sea Robbers are on top of the table with 50 points after 27 games. The Team of Choice have to bring the red-hot Buccaneers to earth to enhance their chances of surviving relegation.

Maritzburg coach Eric Tinkler is still optimistic that they will survive the chop come the end of the season.

“I still believe that we can avoid relegation. I will always believe. That’s the person I am.

“We will fight till the end. Now we have four cup finals. We can’t be selective. It is another tough game against Orlando Pirates. They should be motivated to play against Pirates.

“The win is even more important. It is about our survival. Collecting three points is extremely important,” Tinkler explained as he laid out the puzzle pieces they have to assemble to survive.

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence after managing to string together three victories on the trot.

“Pirates are beatable,” said Tinkler. “Everyone is beatable in this league. We saw SuperSport United beating Mamelodi Sundowns. We’ve seen it throughout the season, as long as you apply yourself in a right manner and you need to have that belief,” he added.

Maritzburg will be looking to get back to winning ways tonight after dropping three crucial points against Highlands Park in their previous encounter.

“The players are well aware of the situation they are finding themselves in. You will never eradicate that. It is all about how you deal with it. We have to respond in a positive manner.

“We shouldn’t panic. It’s all about playing with no fear. Unfortunately, that’s what I saw against Highlands Park – we played with fear going forward “ Tinkler said.

The Team of Choice boasts a decent record under the tutelage of Tinkler at home, having lost just one game in five league outings. In this time Tinkler has registered four victories.

“We seem to change our mindset when we are playing at home. We seem to play a lot more attacking football. Truth be told, when I arrived the team had only scored six goals. My focus in each and every week was on the offensive side of our game.

“Leading to the game against Highlands Park, I focused more on defence. That’s where the problem was, “ Tinkler said.

Tonight’s game is expected to be a scorcher with both teams in desperate need of points for different reasons.

“We’ve got to be clinical in our last matches. We have to work on that,” Tinkler said. “ I will rather win this game 5-4.”