Hendricks: United need to capitalise on opportunities

2012-04-12 00:00

MARITZBURG United defender Byrone Hendricks has encouraged his team-mates to start capitalising on their opportunities ahead of Saturday’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final against Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.

United advanced to the last eight of the competition after wins over Bloemfontein Celtic and then KZN rivals Golden Arrows, but this weekend’s tie against the PSL table-toppers will provide the Team of Choice with their toughest test yet in the competition.

United are struggling in the league and have wasted numerous opportunities to score goals in recent weeks — something which Hendricks says needs to improve.

“We are not defending too badly, but we need to start finishing the opportunities that we create,” the former Santos man told The Witness yesterday.

Normally partner to Senegalese powerhouse Mor Diouf in United’s central defence, Hendricks has found himself playing on the right hand side of a tweaked back four under coach Ernst Middendorp over the last few matches.

“It works quite well and I’m not really playing right back, but more as a right-sided central defender,” said Hendricks, illustrating the coach’s tendency to play with a narrow formation.

The defensive alteration has seen the arrival of 22-year-old David Booysen to the back four, and Hendricks was full of praise for the youngster.

“He has done really well since coming in,” he said. “He sticks really tight to the men that he is marking and that has been good for us.”

On paper, United don’t stand a chance on Saturday, but the Team of Choice always seem to bring a little extra to the table when they play the “big teams” of South African football.

Hendricks explained: “I think it’s because you don’t have to motivate the players to play against a side like Chiefs or Pirates. But we should play every game like that, even against the ‘smaller’ teams, because that is what we need to do for the rest of the season.”

Good news for United is that the elegant Kurt Lentjies returns to the side after serving a suspension, and Middendorp said the midfielder would walk straight back into the setup.

“I feel having Lentjies back will be key for us in terms of ball possession and the culture he brings to the team,” Middendorp said yesterday.

It is possible that Lentjies will feature in a straight swap with Nigerian winger Felix Obada, who will miss this weekend’s tie after reaching his yellow card limit in the league game against Santos on Sunday. But Middendorp could not confirm this.

“I still have not decided and it all depends on the type of structure we want to play with,” the coach said.

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