Tinkler places league ahead of cup

Matsatsantsa will visit Phunya Sele Sele at Dr Molemela Stadium on Sunday afternoon (15h30). It's a repeat of the Telkom Knockout last 16 encounter between the two sides, which Celtic won on penalties. The sides also played in a Absa Premiership match last weekend in Tshwane, a match Tinkler's men won 4-2.

Last season Matsatsantsa became the first team to successfully defend their Ke Yona trophy, but winning it is not high on their list of priorities right now.

With their top-eight place hanging in the balance, Tinkler has admitted their main focus remains on the league rather than trying to once again defend their cup.

“Bloemfontein is not an easy place to go to, but we’re going there with a squad that I believe will show a lot of hunger and desire, because we are making a few changes to the team. We need to [make changes] because of the heavy schedule we’ve had,” said Tinkler on Thursday.

“Also, our priority right now has to be in the league. We have three massive league matches coming up, with two of them – against Platinum Stars and Ajax Cape Town – are extremely important.

“So, obviously our focus has to be on those games, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see ourselves going through to the next round. We have a good enough squad, with some youth and experience, that can potentially go there and get us the right result.”

Tinkler also believes facing a fellow Absa Premiership side in the opening round of the competition is an advantage, following his slip-up with former club Cape Town City against Acornbush United last year.

“No, remember what happened to me last season, against Acornbush? There’s no guarantees in this game, I think we’ve seen that time and time again,” he commented.

“I do think, if you look at Bloemfontein Celtic, they are probably asking themselves the question, ‘How important is the Nedbank Cup?’ So, we will also see what team they put out on Sunday.

“But, it’s a tough league. There’s not many points between the bottom and the top-eight. There’s now a few teams that, following our win, have been dragged into that situation.

“I think on the day, whoever comes onto the field, it will be about who wants it the most, which is what is important.

“Like I said, there’s no guarentees against the smaller teams, they come with a lot of passion, hunger and desire, and a high work rate. If you don’t match them for that, it becomes a massive problem.”

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