It’s all uphill from here for United

2012-10-31 00:00

WITH four of the last eight teams left in the Telkom Knockout being granted “seeded” status before the draw for the tournament’s quarter-finals, Maritzburg United were never set for an easy fixture.

But the most important thing, according to Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp, is that Friday night’s clash with SuperSport United is a home game.

“It doesn’t matter which side you get at this stage, they are all difficult games,” the coach said yesterday.

United could have drawn one of either Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns or Free State Stars, but will go into Friday’s clash full of optimism following a dramatic 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs last weekend.

Next Wednesday’s league fixture at home to Bloemfontein Celtic will be United’s fourth game in a row at Harry Gwala and they then travel to Durban for a date with Golden Arrows just three days later.

Good news for Friday is that attacking midfielder Mthokozisi Yende, on loan from Chiefs this season, returns from suspension after missing his side’s last two fixtures. Orlando Smeekes, who missed the Chiefs game with a thigh strain, is also likely to play some part in Friday’s clash after lasting all of yesterday’s training session at Carter High School.

Defender/midfielder Ryan de Jongh, who landed himself in hot water for showing dissent after being substituted in the first half against Chiefs, had his disciplinary hearing with the club yesterday, and is expected to be fined for his action, though the amount could not be confirmed.

Speaking of his opponents for next Saturday’s clash, Middendorp said that he has warned his players to expect a quality side regardless of the starting 11.

“They are a fantastic team with a lot of depth and quality players, and this is what I have told my players,” he said.

“They will definitely finish in the top three in the league and they have been very consistent in creating chances this season.”

Franklin Cale and former Maritzburg United centre back Mor Diouf are suspended for the tie after they were both sent off in SuperSport’s 1-1 PSL draw with Wits on Saturday.

Friday night’s match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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