The Team of Choice meet the log-leading Clever Boys at the Bidvest Stadium at 8pm on Friday in what will be Tinkler’s first match in charge since taking over this week.
The former Bafana Bafana midfielder understands well what Maritzburg United means to the people of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and is determined to do everything in his power to steer the team to safety.
"I'm really happy to join the Team of Choice,” he said. “It's always been a club that I have admired. I think it's a proper football club and the community supports it exceptionally well. I'm hoping I can come here and change the fortunes of the club.
“I’m very happy to be here, it’s a challenge that I embrace. Maritzburg United are a great footballing team, I thought they had a fantastic season last sedason,” he added.
The 48-year-old former Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United coach is confident the Team of Choice have in their ranks enough quality to climb out of their current predicament, and emphasised that his main priority will be to try and lift the players’ spirits.
“What I’ve watched of Maritzburg this season, they have sometimes been unlucky, although I know in sport you don’t like using that word. But it is the truth, they have been a little unlucky on occasions, certain results could have gone the other way,” he said.
“But I firmly believe that if we can change the mindset of the players, improve the confidence and the morale, and if we can get ourselves one or two positive results nice and quick and early, we can close that gap and start putting pressure on those other teams slightly above us. I think personally that we have more depth than some of these teams to survive.
“I’ll be working with the players, specifically on the physiological side of things. I think the players are mentally drained. I don’t think they are physically drained, but they are mentally drained.
“On the field of play, let's not look to make massive changes, because I think that’s just going to confuse everyone. I want to try and rebuild what was good, what they know, and bring a positive vibe to training and to the club.
“There is a lot of talent in the squad, a lot of them very young players. I have to go with the players that show dedication, hunger and passion and that are prepared to put in the shift and work hard, because that’s what we need right now.”
Tinkler has advised his men that they should embrace the underdog status against his former club Wits in Braamfontein on Friday; for one thing, the Clever Boys will be glancing over their shoulders as the likes of Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City close in on them at the summit. That pressure could work in Maritzburg’s favour.
“The players must realise that they have absolutely nothing to lose, because nobody is giving us a chance to go there and get a result, we’re playing against the team that is top of the log. That in itself should be the motivation,” he said.
“Being a sports person, you love the challenge, the challenge is what pushes you, you want to achieve things, and how do you do that? By pitching up for the party against big teams like Wits who are laying top of the table, and causing a shock and stealing the limelight. This is an opportunity for us to do that and to build the confidence and morale of the team.”