SUPERSPORT United head coach Eric Tinkler has warned his players to pull up their socks and focus on their jobs.
Tinkler pulled no punches, telling his players that their last three performances in the Absa Premiership were not good enough.
He was fuming after SuperSport were beaten 3-1 by Baroka FC in Polokwane on Sunday, saying his players looked in holiday mode.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori have now taken only two points from their last four league matches.
Said Tinkler yesterday: “I could sense the holiday mood in the dressing-room. The Christmas break is coming at the right time. The players need it, they will come back in January refocused on the league.
“I had a heart-to-heart talk with them on Sunday and reminded them that they are professionals. We have one match left and need to win it to go into the new year on a high.”
United face another stiff challenge when they travel to the Dr Molemela Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm) to meet Bloemfontein Celtic in their final fixture of 2017.
Added Tinkler: “I want to see them focus and concentrate when we play Celtic. We failed to do that against Baroka.”
He said his players had struggled emotionally and psychologically after losing to DR Congo giants TP Mazembe in the Caf Confederation Cup in October: “Players were in tears in the dressing-room after the final. It hurt them emotionally. It was hard to take.
“In Europe the season ends with the Champions League and Europa Cup. Players go on holiday. We had to play a league game three days after losing the final. That was tough.
“Next year the Caf calender is different and that will help our clubs.”
Tinkler said he would fix problems experienced against Bakgaga: “We switched off for the first two goals against Baroka. Celtic, who were beaten 4-1 by Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend, will be confident against us. They beat us in the Telkom Knockout.
“But every game is like a cup final for us and this will be no different. We need to go into the Christmas break with a win. We did not become a bad team overnight.”
Tinkler said his players were not suffering from fatigue: “Fatigue has nothing to do with our recent form. That is no excuse.”