Aiming high

2009-10-17 00:00

IF the myth of their solid start to the season has been pricked to some extent by their 5-1 home PSL defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns, then Maritzburg United’s next four games will offer an opportunity to rebuild.

After tomorrow’s fixture against Moroka Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium, United have three home games at Woodburn Stadium against Jomo Cosmos on Wednesday, Mpumalanga Black Aces (October 28) and Free State Stars (October 31).

United will have been glad for a two-week break from their thrashing at the hands of a rampant Downs when, after leading by a goal, the Team of Choice conceded five second-half goals and increasingly wilted under some Barcelona-esque attacking football.

Downs chairman Patrice Motsepe has long been a fan of the Catalan giants, to the extent that he brought Barcelona out to play Sundowns in a friendly two years ago. He will be pleased that his decision to bring one of Barcelona’s ex-greats to Downs’ headquarters at Chloorkop, which raised a few eyebrows given Hristo Stoichkov’s inexperience in coaching, appears to be yielding results.

For Maritzburg it must have been back to the drawing board over the last two weeks.

United coach Gordon Igesund was pleased his players accepted responsibility for the glaring errors they made in the thrashing by Sundowns. From a spectator’s point of view, though, it did seem the bench had some role to play too.

With a capacity crowd turning out, and perhaps 90% of those United supporters, it seemed disappointing United had not opted for a more free-flowing gameplan similar to when the PMB team attacked Orlando Pirates for 90 minutes in front of a packed house last season, and ended narrow 2-1 losers.

Instead the team engineered a 1-0 lead through what could best be described as crabby football, where each inch of the field was fought for with cautious, meticulous build-up play. Each attack by the home team was roared on by the home fans, but there seemed too few of these given that United appeared to have the making of their admittedly illustrious, though also hitherto off-form, visitors.

When Sundowns came out fired-up in the second half United had no answer. Admittedly, no coach can allow for the defensive errors that gifted the Brazilians a 2-1 lead within minutes, but these things happen in football, and there has to be a response to them.

United supporters might ask why Chilis Madondo was not introduced earlier for an off-form Musa Nyatama, why Collen Zimba is on the bench when he never gets more than 10 minutes to prove himself, and why the bench seemed incapable of stopping United play the long-ball? Has goalkeeper Brenden Wardle committed enough errors to be replaced by Tashrique Goldman?

Overall, it was a hiatus of an evening, and one United will want to put behind them, starting tomorrow against a team in 13th place and have its own troubles.

The appointment of nobody German coach Ranier Zobel was always going to spell trouble for the Birds, especially after last season’s dismissal of Brazilian Julio Cesar Leal.

Having seen to it that Zobel needed a police escort from Dobsonville after their 0-0 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic a fortnight ago, Swallows’ irate fans are promising trouble again tomorrow.

Swallows have Collins Mbesuma and Siyabonga Nomvete back from injury and Lungisani Ndlela’s height can cause all sorts of problems at striker.

The Birds seem to be pinning much of of their hopes on Mbesuma finding the sort of form that saw him net 35 times to almost single-handedly win the league for Kaizer Chiefs in 2005, but this seems a long shot.

United have Fadlu Davids suspended, while right-back Peter Petersen is doubtful.

This would seem an ideal opportunity for United to put pressure on the Birds and do something they have failed to do despite their good away form this season, apart from the 1-0 win over Chiefs — go for the jugular and show killer instinct.

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Wits University (Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30 pm), Mamelodi Sundowns v Kaizer Chiefs (Super Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1 and SuperSport 4), Mpumalanga Black Aces v SuperSport United (Puma Rugby Stadium, 3.30 pm), Free State Stars v Platinum Stars (Goble Park Preview, 3.30 pm), Orlando Pirates v Santos (Orlando Stadium Preview, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Jomo Cosmos v AmaZulu (Rand Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SABC1)

Tomorrow: Moroka Swallows v Maritzburg United (Dobsonville Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), Ajax Cape Town v Bloemfontein Celtic (Newlands Stadium, 3.30 pm – on SuperSport 4)

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