Eric Tinkler says SuperSport United could sacrifice CAF Confederation Cup for Absa Premiership focus
Posted: 12 February 2018 Time: 19:00
SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler has conceded that this year’s CAF Confederation Cup could be sacrificed for their Absa Premiership standing.
Matsatsantsa return to the continental cup competition, on the back of their runners-up finish last year, after successfully retaining the Nedbank Cup in the 2016/17 season.
Having gone all the way to their maiden CAF club final, only to narrowly lose out to TP Mazembe in the two-legged affair, has clearly cost the Tshwane club dearly this season.
SuperSport are currently placed 11th on the log, with 24 points from 20 games, and appear at risk of ending outside the top half of the table for the first time in 18 years.
Given their historic Confederation Cup achievement and MTN8 triumph earlier this season, Tinkler feels the season would be a success should they finish inside the top six in the league, which he stresses is their main focus at this stage.
“For us, I think this season so far has been quite an exceptional season, when we look at the  Nedbank Cup and then, obviously, the Confederation Cup and MTN8,” said Tinkler.
“But the league is always priority and, for us as a club, we need to be finishing in the top eight – top six preferably. Our aspirations in the beginning of the season was obviously higher – we were looking to go for the title.
“I honestly believe what happened in Africa really did hurt us as a team, and right now we need to be questioning how far we really want to go in this year’s CAF competition, knowing what effects it had on the team and the squad.”
Tinkler feels should they have further aspirations to attain the star above the club’s crest, they will certainly need a larger squad in order to sustain themselves domestically and on the continent.
“One thing it has taught us is that we probably need to have a bigger squad if we want to take the CAF competition more serious,” he added.
“We have a squad of 27 players, of which a few are youngsters, and the amount of injuries and players feeling the effects of what has been two long seasons has obviously been to the detriment of our league position.
“We need to now think carefully of what we want to do going forward. It’s not a case of us not wanting to take the competition serious, it’s just that it falls in a period where our league is more important.
“I will field what I believe to be a more inexperienced team in the first qualifying rounds, but I believe those players are more than capable of getting through those rounds.”
SuperSport enter the tournament at the first qualifying round, which, should they win, will be followed by the final play-off round before the group stages.
Their opening clash looks set to be against Petro de Luanda of Angola, who beat Masters Security of Malawi 5-0 in their preliminary round first-leg qualifier on Saturday.