‘Home’ match: Upbeat United to face bloem Celtic in Port Elizabeth

2012-03-13 00:00

MARITZBURG United travel to Port Elizabeth this morning for a “home” PSL encounter with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth tomorrow night.

The match is the second of three this season that the United board agreed to move away from Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in a deal that has brought around R2,25 million into the club.

The first of the three matches at Nelson Mandela Bay saw United draw 0-0 to Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs, and coach Ernst Middendorp conceded yesterday that he would like to have played the match in front of his side’s home supporters, but added that it was not something that should detract from tomorrow’s performance.

“We would have liked to have a home game because we know we have a great atmosphere at home,” he told The Witness yesterday. “But we accept the decision. The players know the stadium and enjoy playing there and we will treat it as a home game.”

United are still without the services of regular goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters, who continues to recover from a knee injury. The club’s medical team has pinpointed next Wednesday’s home encounter with strugglers Black Leopards as a possible date for Walters to return. PSL veteran Francis Chansa will continue to stand in for Walters until then, and Middendorp expressed his confidence in the Congolese’s ability to do the job tomorrow night.

“He [Chansa] is an experienced keeper and he has done very well for us so far,” the German coach said.

United beat Celtic in a Nedbank Cup encounter at Harry Gwala on Friday night in what was Middendorp’s first victory since returning to his former club. But the Team of Choice have had a disappointing run of results in the PSL this year, collecting one point from a possible nine without scoring a goal in three matches.

With United scoring twice against Celtic on Friday, tomorrow’s match presents the perfect opportunity for Middendorp’s charges to return to winning ways and gain three valuable log points. PSL matches away at Golden Arrows and then at home to Leopards follow tomorrow night’s affair, all three of which must be viewed as winnable matches.

The match starts at 7.30pm and will not be televised.

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