Tinkler believes that Amakhosi have enough firepower in their arsenal to address their challenges
ERIC Tinkler is not reading too much into the problems that might hurt Kaizer Chiefs as his Maritzburg United side gear up for the Telkom Knockout semi-finals at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
It hasn’t been a pretty week for Chiefs who will face the Pietermaritzburg outfit without the services of their centre-back Eric Mathoho and in-form goal-minder Daniel Akpeyi.
The duo have been colossal at the heart of defence for Amakhosi but will be serving their suspensions. Akpeyi got his fourth yellow card while Mathoho was dismissed for pushing Abel Mabaso in the Soweto derby. The Nigerian No 1 Akpeyi’s bookings could have been avoided as all of them were for time-wasting.
But Tinkler believes that Amakhosi have enough firepower in their arsenal to address their challenges.
“(Itumeleng) Khune might be back but we don’t know. That’s their number one according to what I’ve read. They’ve got so many options. They have (Kgotso) Moleko and they have (Lorenzo) Gordinho. They have replacements. They have a lot of depth,” Tinkler said.
Both teams are heading into the tussle in a rich vein of form across all competitions. Chiefs are unbeaten in their last eight outings while the Team of Choice haven’t tasted defeat in the past seven games. In addition, Tinkler has a knack for cup competitions while Chiefs have a strong history in knockout games. These factors are perfect ingredients for a cracker of an encounter.
Tinkler has clearly chosen to play mind games by heaping praise on the Phefeni Boys.
“They (Chiefs) are playing very differently to what they did last season. They also have a different team. I don’t think that you can sit and compare to be brutally honest,” he said.
“Nurkovic has brought something very different. They are a more direct team now than what they were in the past because of the height that he gives them up front. It is the same (Leonardo) Castro. So, our planning can’t be like we are playing them last season.
“I thought we were unlucky we lost 1-0 against them last season (in the second round),” he added.
Chiefs’ main threat has been their aerial approach in the last third of the opposition half but Tinkler believes he has a plan to nullify that threat.
“We have a lot of people with height. We have Pogiso (Sanoka), Rushine (de Ruck) who has got height and there is Nazier Allie who is not tall but good aerially. Siyanda Xulu is also very strong in the air. We have options there. It is the second ball that I worry about,” Tinkler articulated.
The Team of Choice are still searching for their maiden triumph in top flight football and they are two games away from capturing their first piece of silverware.
“We’ve got ourselves into this stage of the competition because of our great work defensively. We’ve been keeping clean sheets and that becomes important against a good team like Chiefs. Defensively, you need to be solid against Chiefs. Obviously we want to work on our offensive play as well. We need to capitalise on whatever mistake they are going to make.