Hosting Pirates ‘will be huge for the city’

2013-11-21 00:00

MARITZBURG United withstood pressure from the Premier Soccer League’s security division to move next week’s game against Orlando Pirates to Durban.

When the Buccaneers visit Pietermaritzburg, it will be the first time in two years they have done so, and Team of Choice chairperson Farook Kadodia felt it was an honour for the city. “It [Pirates’ visit] will be huge for the city,” Farook told The Witness yesterday.

“They did South Africa proud when they competed in the Caf Champions League, and it’s an honour to be able to host them so soon,” Kadodia said.

But, according to Kadodia, the security division of the PSL was concerned about how the 11 000-seater Harry Gwala Stadium would be able to host a game that has the potential to be a full house, and suggested moving it to Durban. “We reassured them that it will be incident free, and the game will stay in Maritzburg.”

For the past two seasons, the club has played three of their home games at Port Elizabeth’s 46 000-seater Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for financial reasons, an option they turned down this term.

For the game, Kadodia urged all stakeholders to get involved in helping it “leave a lasting impression”.

Kadodia said Pietermaritzburg was different to other stadiums in the country where fans of the big three — Kaizer Chiefs, Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns — outnumbered the home support.

“When the big three play anywhere in the country, they tend to have more support than the home team. It’s like a home for them. But that’s not the case in Maritzburg,” he said.

PSL spokesperson Lux September told The Witness that Harry Gwala has hosted big games in the past, and they did not have any concerns.

“Both Pirates and Chiefs have played there. I remember last time Pirates were there Benni McCarthy scored,” said September.

The last time Pirates played in Maritzburg (2011/12 season), they were beaten 2-1. McCarthy opened the scoring, but United came back and snatched the points after goals by Diyo Sibisi and Mor Diouf.

The game against the Soweto giants was only meant to be played on December 3, and the club only found out it had been moved on Tuesday.

The announcement was made before United’s trip to Durban to take on Golden Arrows in the KZN derby.

Tickets for the Pirates game go on sale today at R60 for adults and R20 for children.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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