‘Either brave or stupid’

2014-08-08 00:00

A NEW PSL season gets under way tonight in a David and Goliath clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at Loftus.

Even on their best day Maritzburg would struggle against the PSL champions, but the fact that they go into tonight’s clash with seven players unavailable makes matters worse.

Abel Mabaso, Sibusiso Kumalo and Kwanda Mngonyama are unavailable because they are on loan from Sundowns while foreigners John Paintsil, Terrance Mandaza, Khumbulani Banda and Mike Mohammed are all still awaiting work permits. With Mandaza and Mohammed the two frontrunners to strike for Maritzburg, coach Steve Komphela is in a spot of bother.

Thokozani Sekotlong is the likeliest player to be used up front, though his preferred position is playing just behind the striker.

With Paintsil, Banda, Mabaso and Mngonyama all signed as defenders, Komphela’s tactical nous will be stretched to its limit, as United look to come home from Pretoria with any points. Rheece Evans, Mario Booysen and Ruben Cloete — all regular defenders from last season — have left Maritzburg for greener pastures. This is likely to result in Komphela turning to David Booysen, Mohammed Awal, Ryan de Jongh and Thabang Matuka in what would be a very unfamiliar back four for tonight’s seemingly impossible task.

Komphela said before the match that he would not be afraid to throw his new youngsters into the lion’s den, and there would be no more daunting a debut than a clash with the champions.

“I am either brave or stupid,” said Komphela this week. “But I think that the only way you can give confidence to kids is to show bravery.

“When I see a young kid grow in confidence it gives me unbelievable excitement,” he said. “It’s about giving opportunities to those that deserve it, and there are quite a few here.”

United can still call on the likes of Shu-Aib Walters and Kurt Lentjies when looking for experience, and the roles of those two players in particular will be vital this season.

The energy of youth has overridden the wisdom of experience in Komphela’s squad selection this season, and that will be ­extremely evident tonight given the unavailability of most of Maritzburg’s new signings.

“It’s a young squad and most of the players that have come in are young,” Komphela told the PSL website. “The ones that have left were not as young, so we’re now looking at a long-term programme.”

For Sundowns and their coach Pitso Mosimane, though, the journey to another PSL title starts tonight.

• The match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport 2.

Last 10 meetings

2009/10 - Maritzburg 1 - 5 Sundowns

2009/10 - Sundowns 1 - 0 Maritzburg

2010/11 - Sundowns 3 - 0 Maritzburg

2010/11 - Maritzburg 3 - 1 Sundowns

2011/12 - Sundowns 1 - 0 Maritzburg

2011/12 - Maritzburg 1 - 0 Sundowns

2012/13 - Sundowns 1 - 2 Maritzburg

2012/13 - Maritzburg 0 - 3 Sundowns

2013/14 - Sundowns 2 - 2 Maritzburg

2013/14 - Maritzburg 1 - 1 Sundowns

PSL FIXTURES:

Tonight

8 pm - Mamelodi Sundowns v

Maritzburg Utd

Tomorrow

3 pm - University of Pretoria v

Polokwane City, Free State Stars v Kaizer Chiefs

6 pm - Chippa United v Platinum Stars

8.15 pm - Orlando Pirates v Moroka Swallows, SuperSport United v Wits

Sunday

3 pm - AmaZulu v Ajax Cape Town, Bloem Celtic v Black Aces.

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