Can United do it again?

2009-01-20 00:00

A STRING of key absentees have hit Maritzburg United ahead of their much-hyped Premier Soccer League match against second-placed SuperSport United at Woodburn today.

United’s fired-up 2-0 shock victory over league leaders Ajax Cape Town on Saturday has reignited the PMB team’s season just when it seemed to be going off the boil. Now the Team of Choice, confidence surely significantly lifted, will attempt to pull off a similar feat against the more direct and physical league champions from Pretoria.

SuperSport come to PMB stung by a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Free State Stars on Saturday, and tough, competitive coach Gavin Hunt is sure not to have reacted positively at all to what he referred to as his team’s “worst performance since I joined the club”.

The Pretoria team will encounter a United side that will have to do without four key players. Most critically, on-form left-wing Tony Tsabedze is prevented by his loan contract to United from playing against the team he is still officially owned by. The little Swazi scored a gem of a goal against Ajax and has gone from strength to strength at United following a quiet start.

Central midfielder Sam Ndlovu is prevented from playing against SuperSport by the same loan agreement, while United also have two players suspended — workhorse striker Fadlu Davids and their new loan signing from Mamelodi Sundowns, right wing Fanyana Dhladhla.

In the absence of these players, Lucky Maselesele, Junior Khanye, Collen Zimba, Sylla Mbemba, and Lynch Pule could be handed key roles. To counter the absence of Davids, United have big Ivorian striker Brice Aka back from suspension.

United coach Gordon Igesund gave a 36-minute run to 16-year-old winger Jabulani Ncubeni on Saturday, and the youngster thrilled the crowd. The coach might be less inclined to utilise the Edendale lad as extensively today, if at all, against a physical side like SuperSport.

United closed the two-point deficit they had on third-last Bay United with their victory over Ajax, but remain second-last on goal difference. The PMB team must be high on confidence following their fiery, though composed performance against the league leaders, but will not want to get carried away by the result.

SuperSport showed what a dangerous combination they are with their 5-0 demolition of United in the first round in Pretoria, the Team of Choice’s joint-heaviest defeat margin in the PSL along with a 6-1 loss against Kaizer Chiefs in 2006/07.

Liberian striker Anthony Laffor was the chief destroyer on that evening with a majestic hat-trick, and will be SuperSport’s danger man again today. Young Masibusane Zongo, who has been deputising for injured Daine Klate on Matsantsi’s left wing, scored on debut against United and was December’s Rookie of the Month.

SuperSport have influential defensive midfielder Shane Poggenpoel back from suspension. The Pretoria team are managed efficiently off the field, and equally clinical on it.

United have begun the process of getting their season back on track with an inspired victory, though they will need much spirit and resolve, and to overcome some no-doubt tired legs, to stun the league champions today.

Following today’s game, United face Kaizer Chiefs in Rustenburg on Saturday before their “cup final” against last-placed Bloemfontein Celtic at Woodburn on Wednesday.

Today: Maritzburg United v SuperSport United (Woodburn Stadium, 3.30 pm), Lamontville Golden Arrows v Free State Stars (Chatsworth Stadium, 7.30 pm)

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