|Point taken: Benni McCarthy at half-time on Saturday night in Durban|
Tinkler, now 41, won 40 caps for South Africa in a career which took him from humble beginnings in Roodepoort to Vitória de Setúbal and União de Tomar in Portugal, Cagliari in Italy and Barnsley in England.
Now Roger da Sa’s assistant coach at Wits, Tinkler and McCarthy – former Bafana Bafana team-mates – came perilously close to blows at half-time during Orlando Pirates’ 3-1 Telkom Knock-out final triumph in Durban on Saturday night.
But Tinkler, a combative defensive midfielder in his playing days, told football365: “Benni was having an argument with one of our players Zane Mngomezulu. I stepped in to separate them and Benni didn't like the fact that I touched him.
"He shoved me in the face and he swore at me. I swore at him and it didn't go any further than that. People are just making a big thing out of nothing.
"Benni is being stupid about it; you know what I'm saying. That Benni could have slapped me is being ridiculous. He wishes he could have slapped me! I don't want to go into things like that. Obviously tempers were flaring at halftime you know and that's what you get. It is part of the game.
"People have banter on the field and you just have to be grown up enough to accept it and move on or be more professional about it.”
At one point, Da Sa asked McCarthy, South Africa's top scoring striker, if he was being “paid by the kilogram” – a reference to Benni being fined twice over his fatness levels at English club West Ham last season before being paid to leave Upton Park. Da Sa said: “After the game when I went to shake Benni’s hand, he told me to piss off. So I told him he’s got three brain cells.”
In an sparky post-final outburst after helping Orlando Pirates to a clean sweep of domestic trophies, the new slimline McCarthy, who caused Wits problems all night, said: "I even forgot Tinkler and I played together in the national team. He tried to be smart so I had to put him in his place because when you as a player are getting pushed around left, right and centre by the opposing coaches, then me, I must defend myself. He is lucky I didn't slap him."
Meanwhile Buccaneer Daine Klate, man of the match after his goal-scoring performance at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, told me this morning that Orlando Pirates are fully focussed on the African Champions League after their Telkom triumph.
Speaking on eTV Sunrise, Klate said: “I know we’ve got the Angolans (Recrativo Libolo) and we know it will be difficult. But we are also aware of how Bafana and Baby Bafana both failed to qualify for their tournaments in recent weeks.
“We are going to take this tournament seriously, our technical people will be using footage of their games to find out all about them. If we go through, we’ve got Sunshine Stars in Nigeria next. It would be great to go a long way in the competition.
“I’m not saying we will win it (Pirates were the last South African club to lift the African Champions League in 1995) but we will be out to restore South Africa’s footballing pride.”
Klate, born in Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth, has now won every major honour in South African football. Capped 10 times by Bafana Bafana, he started his career as a 19-year-old at Supersports United and won three successive League-winners medals.
He followed that with another League success at Pirates in last season’s treble-winning season, adding the Telkom on Saturday. But the 26-year-old recalls: “When I first arrived at Supersports United, I was a bit scared of Gavin Hunt, but he taught me a lot on and off the pitch.
“It was a big decision to leave Gavin, Pirates hadn’t won anything for ages, but I know I’m a winner. And it’s good to make an impact.”
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