With just a week to go before the commencement of the 2013 Afcon, Goal.com South Africa spoke to former Bafana midfielder Eric Tinkler who was part of the glorious class of 1996
Goal.com: Eric, a lot has been said about the team that Gordon Igesund selected. What is your view?
Tinkler: Well there is nothing that we can do about it now, we just have to support the team in every way. But, I think it is a very balanced team to have and hopefully we will do well.
Goal.com: What were some of the attributes that made your class of 96 a success that you think can help Bafana?
Tinkler: We had a good team spirit. We were brothers and we connected with each other. Honestly, we had great team work and as a result we supported each other. I think if the coach can work on building that chemistry in the team, then they might do well.Goal.com: How do you view the reported dropped standards of football in South African football?
Tinkler: No I don’t think so, we have quite a lot of talented athletes in South Africa and with proper guidance they can do well.
Goal.com: Speaking about talented players are there any lesser celebrated individuals that you think we can look toward for a promising future for Bafana?
Tinkler : Oh yes, Thabo Matlaba. He is one of the greatest players that this country has ever produced. I had an opportunity to work with him while I was still at Orlando Pirates and I have always believed he would make it this far. I am just glad that Igesund was able to spot his potential.
Goal.com: How much impact do you think our international players will add to the team?
Tinkler: They will play a crucial role and their experience is needed. I remember that even when I got my national call-up, I was playing overseas and that helped me to understand the game better. The same can be said of the rest of the guys who were playing overseas too.
Goal.com: From your perspective, tell us more about the advantage of playing in Europe.
Tinkler: Yes, I think the standard of football in Africa is quite high now. Maybe, it is time our players exchange cards and play in countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana. Look at the players they are producing for English football clubs.
Goal.com: How do you think Bafana can prosper at the 2013 Afcon
Tinkler: Team work. They need to play as a unit. They will have to fight together so that it will be easier for them to win this battle.
Goal.com: Lastly, what did Clive Barker tell you guys to motivate you ahead of the big games?
Tinkler: “Go out there and remember that I trust you. The entire nation believes in you, your families believe in you” And those words drove us because we didn’t want to disappoint. There were so many people who believed in us.