‘Best start for me’

2013-09-20 00:00

IT was a perfect start to life in the Premier Soccer League for Maritzburg United’s Ayanda Nkosi, who found the net three minutes into his debut for the club at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday.

Had it not been for good goalkeeping, the 21-year-old could well have walked away from the goal with a brace, but he was not complaining after they claimed the three points after beating Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-0.

“As a youngster, it’s the best possible start I could have asked for in the PSL,” Nkosi told The Witness, adding that he only found out he’d be starting from coach Ernst Middendorp just hours before kick-off.

His goal, which was United’s first in four games, set the Team of Choice off to get them back on winning ways after a run of three games without a win.

A second from defender Mario Booysen killed off the contest and United went into cruise control that was aided by AmaZayoni being reduced to 10 men following Sandile Zuke being given his marching orders.

Talking through his goal, Nkosi said: “I saw [Aces defender] Eduardo [Ferreira] standing back and I thought I could sneak in and break the offside trap. When I was moving on goal, being offside was in my mind, but the referee’s assistant kept the flag down.”

Following the win, Nkosi said he was confident for their trip to Johannesburg this weekend to take on Moroka Swallows at the Dobsonville Stadium.

“Everyone is confident and we can’t wait for that game against Swallows,” he said.

But what was meant to be a joyous occasion for United following their victory over Black Aces turned into a sour moment for the team.

With the match seemingly sewn up at 2-0 in the 64th minute, Middendorp pulled off Nkosi for Terrance Mandaza, which led to protestation from sections of the crowd.

Middendorp was not happy with the reaction, turning to the crowd and letting them know that he was the man in charge.

He told The Witness yesterday that such a reaction was hurting the team.

“It is not okay for the fans to be negative,” Middendorp said.

“They must understand why I take players out,” he said and explained that during the break, Nkosi had begun to cramp up.

“I am the coach and I have to do what is best for this team. We have to trust each other. This is hurting the team and it is not supporting them. But, I must add that it was not all of the supporters but a small group.”

He added: “80% of the supporters were behind the team. It was a small group of 20% that destroyed the atmosphere for everybody else.”

Middendorp was happy with the three points.

“It was a crucial target we were focused on, especially with the problems we have had with a small squad and the number of injuries. We had to manage it, and we picked up the three points,” he said.

Halfway through the first half, Nkosi and Mohammed Yakubu linked up beautifully and this could have seen the youngster score a second had it not been for a good save by Bafana Nhlapo.

“We brought in two players with a lot of movement, and we could have scored three or four goals within the first 25 minutes of the game,” said United’s German mentor.

Speaking of the decision to drop Dutchman Orlando Smeekes and Mandaza, Middendorp said: “I decided to look at other options. It was a risk, and that is what I have to do as the coach.”

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