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Tinkler eyeing Top Eight spot for Maritzburg

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“We want to start looking at the teams above us. The result today was more important that anything else. Getting a win was extremely important”

MARITZBURG United have already set their sights on a top eight Premiership finish as they edge closer to the usual safety zone of a 30-point tally which would mean that they’d be safe from relegation.

Most Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams set 30 points as a benchmark to avoid relegation. The Team of Choice are four points away from that already.

No surprise that coach Eric Tinkler (pictured) is already dreaming about finishing in the top eight. That will be a huge improvement for a team who were almost relegated last season. Maritzburg needed the play-offs to secure their PSL status but they are now in pole position to even finish in the top eight.

“I’m happy with the win,” a jubilant Tinkler said after his team brushed aside AmaZulu 1-0 in a Premiership showdown on Friday night at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. Thabiso Kutumela netted the winner for the home side as they moved up to sixth place on the log with 26 points after 18 league fixtures.

“The win takes us to 26 points and like I said, we want to create that gap between ourselves and what is below us.

“We want to start looking at the teams above us. The result today was more important that anything else. Getting a win was extremely important,” Tinkler added.

The Team of Choice will battle it out for maximum points in their next two fixtures against Baroka FC and Cape Town City.

“We have two tough games and both of them happen to be against teams that are fighting relegation. They are not going to be easy,” the Maritzburg coach said. “Baroka FC away from home, that will be tough, and then we’ve got Cape Town City at the end of the month.

“I explained to the players the importance of making sure that at home we collect those three points and take a lot of pressure out of ourselves. Once we have created the gap between ourselves and lower placed teams, we can start to worry ourselves about other things,” Tinkler explained.

Maritzburg were in a dire situation last season at an identical stage of the season but they are in a much better place this time around.

“Last season at this stage of the season, we were (on) 12 points after 18 games and to find ourselves 18 games (in) and (on) 26 points is great, but I don’t believe that this season the team that will get relegated will be on 26 or 25 points,” Tinkler said.

“I think it will be on more. To be brutally honest, I think 30 might not even be enough, so we’ve got to keep on working hard and focus and keep on pushing ourselves and climb that table and create distance between ourselves and everybody else.

“I think that will be a fantastic achievement if we can achieve that and find ourselves in the top eight.

“If the confidence keeps on growing, the morale will also grow,” Tinkler concluded.