Tinkler is clear about main men

2019-08-07 06:00
Maritzburg United attacking midfielder Gabriel Nyoni is among three new signings at the club who might not be available for the season’s opening game.PHOTO: facebook

Maritzburg United attacking midfielder Gabriel Nyoni is among three new signings at the club who might not be available for the season’s opening game.PHOTO: facebook

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MARITZBURG United coach Eric Tinkler says he has no doubts about his best starting line-up from the old and new stars in his squad, having given enough game-time to all of them in a string of friendly matches over the past three weeks.

He is actually “100% certain” which players deserve first-team places, especially after trips to Limpopo and Durban, for the Absa Premiership season-opener against Golden Arrows this week.

This first of 30 league outings for 2019/20 takes place at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont on Sunday (3 pm kick-off).

But the problem is that three of Tinkler’s new recruits may not be eligible to play this week due to work permit issues — defender Dan Morgan from New Zealand and midfielders Gabriel Nyoni from Zimbabwe and Micah Lea’alafa from the Solomon Islands.

Existing first-choice goalkeeper Richard Ofori is the other foreigner in United’s battalion, but the Ghanaian international has no paperwork issues to worry about at present.

Said Tinkler: “If all the foreigners were definitely available to play at present, I would be 100% sure of my starting line-up for the season-opener.

We are waiting for their paperwork to be sorted, but I don’t think they will all be available this week.” So it’s a race against time in terms of the coach being able to finalise his run-on team to face Arrows this coming weekend.

Morgan is the only out-and-out leftback in Tinkler’s squad at present, with Mxolisi Kunene as likely competition, while Lea’alafa and Nyoni will compete for positions in the engine-room.

Morgan, Lea’alafa and Nyoni are three of eight confirmed new signings at Maritzburg, who still have one foreign berth open since a move for Sundowns reserve striker Jose Ali Meza of Venezuela stalled.

Tinkler also has his fingers crossed that the local club’s management will finally hand a contract to trial player Thamsanqa Sangweni this week to improve his squad depth, but there seems to be no guarantee of that happenning.

Though this is defensive midfielder Sangweni’s second trial at United since December, the club’s management are wary of his bad discipline in the past and they also feel, from a budgetary perspective, that Tinkler does not really need another defensive midfielder because he already has Miguel Timm and recent loan signing Phumlani Ntshangase from Wits available in that area.

Meanwhile, United boss Farook Kadodia yesterday promised to institute disciplinary proceedings against two staff members who accosted the referee at the end of the team’s loss to Real Kings in the KZN Premier’s Cup semi-finals in Durban on Sunday.

One tried to headbutt the referee on the field and the other swore at him in the tunnel afterwards, claiming he missed a clear foul against their team late in the game when they were trying for an equaliser. “Yes, that was uncalled for. We are sorting it out,” Kadodia said briefly.

The opening league programme comprises five matches on Saturday and three on Sunday.

After facing Arrows, United’s first home game will be against Highlands Park five days later, August 9, at Harry Gwala Stadium.

OPENING ABSA PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES

Saturday

Chippa v Stellenbosch — 3 pm

Baroka v CT City — 3 pm

Sundowns v SuperSport — 3 pm

Pirates v Celtic — 6 pm

AmaZulu v Wits — 8.15 pm

Sunday

Leopards v Polokwane — 3 pm

Highlands v Chiefs — 3 pm

Arrows v Maritzburg — 3 pm.

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