Draw with Royals gives United’s chances of making quarter-finals of Nedbank Cup a massive boost

2013-03-01 00:00

MARITZBURG United’s chances of making the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup received a massive boost yesterday after the draw confirmed that they would play minnows Tembu Royals in the last 16 of the competition.

The dates and venues for the round of 16 fixtures are yet to be confirmed, but United are likely to travel to the Eastern Cape’s Mthatha sports field after being drawn as the away team.

Royals, who play their football in the Eastern Cape Safa second division, shocked everyone on Wednesday night when they beat PSL outfit AmaZulu 2-1 at Zwelithini Stadium. This gave them a place in yesterday’s Cup draw. While that result should provide United with a clear warning not to take anything for granted, the Team of Choice will be firm favourites to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Before they can think about the possibility of a Cup run, United must focus on Sunday’s PSL clash with Black Leopards at Harry Gwala stadium.

It has been well documented that United’s major problem at the moment is scoring goals, and perhaps more importantly, creating the opportunities to score goals.

At the beginning of the season, things were happening for United.

The signing of Delron Buckley proved instrumental and he set the league alight in the early stages, scoring and creating goals, while striker Cuthbert Malajila raced his way towards the summit of the PSL’s leading goal scorers.

But with Buckley now a marked man and Malajila suspended for Sunday’s clash, United may need to look elsewhere if they are to create the chances that will bring about their first league win in eight matches.

“If we can get our more influential guys on the ball more often, guys like Bucks [Buckley], then we will have more opportunities to create chances,” defensive midfielder Michael Morton told The Witness this week. “Everyone knows now that Bucks is instrumental and now they are looking out for him so it does mean that other guys have to step up to the plate a bit more.”

With Malajila suspended for Sunday’s match as he approaches full fitness after recovering from a nasty knee injury, Morton encouraged the rest of his team-mates to start chipping in with some goals.

“When the goals are coming from all over then it takes a bit more pressure off Cuthbert,” said Morton.

Morton has been used in a crucial holding midfield role playing just behind Buckley in recent weeks — a position where attacks are often expected to start.

But the former Orlando Pirates and Wits man says that he doesn’t feel any extra pressure to start creating chances for his side.

“Personally, my role has been to be the destroyer and try and win the ball back for the team.

“I try to give the ball to the more creative players because I know that’s not the strongest part of my game.”

In his second season at Harry Gwala, Morton has always been effective at breaking up opposition attacks. However, United will need to create a strategy to find the back of the net on Sunday.

It won’t matter where the goal comes from, as long as it comes and United register those precious three points to get their season moving in the right direction once again.

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