Sport

Desperate Tinkler Hosts Unpredictable Celtic

Bottom placed Maritzburg United host Bloemfontein Celtic in a must-win match today if they are to have any chance of remaining in the Absa Premiership next season.

The Team of Choice will welcome Celtic to Harry Gwala Stadium at 8 pm.

Maritzburg is four points behind Baroka and Chippa United on the log.

Coach at Maritzburg, Eric Tinkler wants his troops to close the gap to the other relegation candidates.

“For us, it is all about three points. They don’t need it as much as we do. For us, it is about closing that gap between us and the two teams directly above us. That’s what we need to do.

“We need to collect three points. Anything less than that wouldn’t satisfy us. It wouldn’t be good enough. We know the importance of getting these result because it will put the pressure on the teams directly above us,” Tinkler said.

Maritzburg is languishing at the base of the table with 17 points after 24 games.

“Celtic bring what they have been doing the whole season. Everybody knows exactly the situation the club is in but the players are playing without fear. Players are not afraid to express themselves. They have been playing good football. Obviously, we need to look at their strengths and make sure that defensively we fulfill our tasks.

“We have to study their weaknesses and we have to expose those weaknesses. That’s obviously what we’ve been trying to work on,” noted a concerned Tinkler.

Despite being knocked out the Nedbank Cup in the quarterfinals against Golden Arrows, Celtic coach Lehlohonolo Seema and his charges turn their focus back to the league and nothing but three points will do for them as they seek to retain their spot in the Top 8. 

Seema said their loss was now water under the bridge, citing the sole focus was on United and collecting maximum points on the road.

“These last few games we are gunning for maximum points away and at home,” said Seema.

He said this will ensure the team wraps up the season in a more comfortable position.

Finishing in the Top 8 remained Celtic’s target and for the club to do so they needed to get three points both away and home, starting with United.

Added Seema: “We’ve done our homework, we know what needs to be done and we are ready to do battle in order for us to achieve our objective.”

Maritzburg will face Celtic, Highlands Park, Orlando Pirates, Black Leopards, SuperSport United and Baroka FC in their last six league outings.

Tinkler said, “I’m not a psychologist, but I’m a coach and I have to be a psychologist, and I need to motivate these boys and that’s what I will do.

“I will only know when the referee blows that whistle, that’s when I will know whether they are in a right frame of mind or not.

“That’s the best I can do. I have to prepare them to the best of my ability. I have to remain positive. That rubs off on them,” he added.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi