United they rise

2013-03-24 10:00

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Legendary ex-Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns defender Daniel ‘Dan Dance’ Malesela is moulding United FC into a force in the NFD. Daniel Mothowagae spent some time with the youthful side this week.

United FC plays football the way South African fans wish to see the game being played: Mzansi style.

Coach Daniel Malesela insists on the passing of the ball around the park, movements on and off the ball, but, above all, he is not afraid to go to war with young guns.

United’s confidence and distinguished style of play is the reason the youthful side ranks above established names in the NFD such as Jomo Cosmos and Dynamos.

United were placed seventh on the NFD log before this weekend’s fixtures and it is also their impressive run in the Nedbank Cup that has put them under the spotlight.

They eliminated Jomo Cosmos, Premier Soccer League side Chippa United and Roses ­United. They will now face fellow NFD side African Warriors in the quarterfinals on April 14.

But Malesela regards their fairy tale run as a motivation ­towards their ultimate bid on the bigger scale.

“We are trying to make an ­impact in the league, but there is ­also room for learning,” said Malesela shortly after his side suffered just their second defeat away from home in 10 outings so far this season.

United lost 3-0 to FC AK midweek, a margin that also dented their defensive record, which was the second best before Wednesday’s game.

Malesela believes in young players, having spent the better part of his coaching career as a youth coach at the Safa Football School of Excellence and Mamelodi Sundowns.

He said: “I’m not afraid to use young players. Most of these youngsters are the untapped ­talent while some got lost in development structures. I believe in continuity and that’s the reason I have developed a good relationship with most development coaches over the years.”

The youngest member of the squad, Siyabulela Shai (19), is a perfect example of a player who has not disappeared into obscurity since City Press profiled him in 2011 when he was still with the Mamelodi Sundowns juniors.

He is the son of legendary former Bafana Bafana and Sundowns midfielder Isaac ­“Paradise” Shai.

Malesela also saved the careers of the likes of striker Lucky Khune ­(ex-Kaizer Chiefs) and defender Walter ­Mapon-yane (ex-Sundowns) who were both discarded by their clubs last season.

“I don’t know what is ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ as what matters to me is what a player can offer on the field of play,” said Malesela, whose team epitomises their motto “kopano ke matla” (unity is strength).

Unlike most teams whose players resort to shutting out the outside world with headphones, there is hardly any of that sort in the United camp.

»?For United’s remaining fixtures, go to www.citypress.co.za/sports

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