Keep on upgrading, United urged

2009-12-02 00:00

BUOYED by a 1-0 victory over AmaZulu with 10 men in the opening match of Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday, Maritzburg United turn their focus to Platinum Stars at Woodburn Stadium tonight.

And fixing their attention on in-form Stars is exactly where United coach Ernst Middendorp wants his team’s focus to be, rather than letting their minds stray to Sunday’s match-up against the coach’s old team, Kaizer Chiefs, at Moses Mabhida stadium.

Middendorp notched up his first win as United coach in his third game in charge against AmaZulu, and while the performance was far from perfect, he would have been pleased at the grit and organised defence United showed in a hard-working performance after being reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute.

“For me the biggest thing at the moment is that we should be busy getting focused on this match against Platinum Stars rather than thinking about the game against Chiefs on Sunday,” the United coach said yesterday.

“What we will be able to achieve in this match is up to us, and if we are able to be focused on Stars on Wednesday and to boost our confidence both individually and as a team, then these are the key elements for us in this game.”

Stars, coached by Steve Khompela who took Free State Stars from the bottom half to a fourth-placed finish last season, have found form after a slow start. The team, owned by the Platinum-rich Royal Bafokeng Holdings, have won three of their last four games to progress steadily to ninth place.

“I have great respect for their players — there’s players like Dillon Sheppard in midfield and their defence with [Mbulelo] Mabizela and [George] Mofokeng and the goalkeeper [Tapuwa Kapini], who all have a lot of experience in the PSL,” Middendorp said. “Then there are youngsters like Kagiso Senamela, who I had at Kaizer Chiefs.

“But it’s up to us how we deal with the situation and be positive on our home ground.”

Middendorp said he believes the AmaZulu result will have a positive effect on United.

“I would rather take it as somewhere to take a step from rather than relieving tension, and a point from which we can improve our belief in our team.

“From what I see in the training sessions, and then you come to match day … our keeping possession and passing is not what it could be, and it can be hard to understand.

“But the quality will not come in five or six matches and let’s keep upgrading and boosting the confidence.”

United have Peter Petersen, red-carded against AmaZulu, out suspended. Middendorp expects Felix Obada, who was stretchered off on Sunday, to be ready for tonight’s game.

“He wanted to train on Monday, but we decided to rest him. We’ll look at him on the match morning and decide then.”

In other matches tonight inconsistent Kaizer Chiefs, coming off a 3-0 victory over Wits University at Milpark on Sunday, host AmaZulu at Loftus, and Lamontville Golden Arrows, who lost to Platinum Stars on the weekend, host Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Last-placed Jomo Cosmos, who have just 10 points from 18 games and seem to be almost certain relegation material, are at home to Orlando Pirates at the Rand Stadium.

 

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30 pm), Jomo Cosmos v Orlando Pirates (Rand Stadium, 7.30 pm), Maritzburg United v Platinum Stars (Woodburn Stadium, 7.30 pm), Moroka Swallows v Free State Stars (Dobsonville Stadium, 7.30 pm), Kaizer Chiefs v AmaZulu (Loftus Stadium, 7.30 pm), Mamelodi Sundowns v Santos (Super Stadium, 7.30 pm), Bloemfontein Celtic v Wits University (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, 7.30 pm)

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