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Telkom Knockout Cup: Maritzburg United’s Tinkler wary of 'different' Kaizer Chiefs

9:21 PM GMT+4 19/11/2019
Eric Tinkler, Maritzburg United
The Team of Choice manager believes the 2010 Fifa World Cup venue will suit their brand of football

Ahead of their eagerly anticipated Telkom knockout Cup semi-final clash against Kaizer Chiefs, Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler is not reading too much in the absence of players such as Erick Mathoho and Itumeleng Khune.

Despite expecting an entertaining encounter at Mbombela Stadium, the former Bafana Bafana midfielder is banking on their seven-match winning run as they look to secure a spot in the final.

On the other hand, Tinkler believes Amakhosi are different from a team they faced last season, saying new players such as Samir Nurkovic have brought a new dimension at Naturena.

“Kaizer Chiefs, no matter where they go‚ it’s a home game and I think their record at FNB Stadium isn’t that great," said Tinkler to the media on Tuesday.

"Obviously we would have preferred to play them there but I like Mbombela. I think it’s a fantastic stadium.

"The surface from the last time I saw a match being played which was against SuperSport United was great, the surface will be great and I think it helps us in terms of the brand of football we want to play. Obviously it will also help them, it will be an entertaining match and we know how strong they are.

“They are having a great season. We know their confidence right now is very high but we need to go there and be brave, not play with fear.”

Speaking about injured players such as Khune, Kearyn Baccus and the fact the ‘Tower’ is suspended for the clash, the 49-year-old believes the Soweto giants have enough depth.

“Khune might be back, we don’t know. That’s their number one according to what I’ve read and they have so many options, [Siyabonga] Ngezana maybe is away with the U23s but they’ve got (Kgotso) Moleko who can come in, they've got (Lorenzo) Gordinho,” added the Team of Choice manager.

“So, they’ve got replacements and Baccus probably is back, they’ve got a lot of depth. I think they are playing very different from what they did last season‚ it’s a very different team.

"I don’t think you can sit and compare, to be brutally honest. They’ve got new faces, Samir Nurkovic has brought something very different.

"I think they are a more direct team now than what they were in the past because of the height that he gives them up front, same as (Leonardo) Castro.”

Moreover, the ex-SuperSport United coach has expressed delight in how his players have shown the hunger to feature in the match set for Sunday afternoon.

“We came through three games in seven days recently and we felt that we needed to give them a rest. I gave them the weekend off but the intensity in training on Monday was massive‚ which is what I did not expect. It was the same today (Tuesday),” he continued.

“The intensity was very good and it shows that everybody wants to try and get into that 18-man squad - which is what you want.

"We just have to manage the players in the right way, on top of it all, we haven’t lost in seven games. So, players need to also understand that you don’t want to change a winning team‚ that’s the hard part, keeping all the players happy. That’s the difficulty.

“There will always be criticism that you should be playing this one or that one. I don’t mind when players are unhappy that they are not playing, that is the way you should feel but how you express it becomes very important.”