Looking back at United in 2014

2014-12-24 00:00


The coach has been a revelation for United this season. His decision to bring in a host of new faces has given Maritzburg a sense of youthfulness that is seen in their energetic approach to matches these days. Komphela could be criticised for being a bit too rigid in his team selection over periods of fixture congestion, but he has got the team playing some fantastic football when they get it right. He is a man manager who has instilled into his players a respect for the game and the club. Keeping him away from Orlando Pirates will be crucial to any further success United have this season.


Cele has provided one of the stories of the PSL season. An unknown entity playing third tier football on the South Coast just seven months ago, the winger has worked his way up to Bafana Bafana. That is all down to his form at United this season. He appears to be the complete player — strong, fast, skilful and professional. He has given United a spark going forward that they have not had in recent seasons. It won’t be long before the big clubs come calling, and keeping Cele will be difficult for United if the offers are competitive.


Hartog has captained the side from holding midfield all season and he has been in good from throughout. He has been the perfect replacement for former skipper Michael Morton. Hartog’s soft feet and range of passing make him a threat going forward while his anticipation and strength make him equally important defensively. He is calm, thoughtful and respected.


It would be unfair to single out one defender because they have all played well. Khumbulani Banda’s performances from the left stand out — the Zimbabwean, a handful going forward week after week. Abel Mabaso has also been solid from the right and his versatility has seen him used on the wing and in holding midfield. The experience of John Paintsil at centre-back has been a major boost for the team, while Kwanda Mngonyama and Mohammed Awal have done enough to feature for Bafana Bafana and Ghana respectively.


United have been playing well and scoring goals, but they have lacked a clinical finisher. New signing Mohau Mokate appeared to have enough about him to fill that role before injury ruled him out for most of the first half of the season. Ghanaian Mohammed Anas is the club’s leading scorer having netted five times, with two of those coming in the shock 2-1 win over Pirates. He appears to be the man most equipped to spearhead the United attack, but he too has problems with fitness and spends a lot of time on the sidelines. The other option is the hardworking Terrance Mandaza, but the Zimbabwean has struggled to take his opportunities when he has been given some game time.


Ever since Komphela has come to Maritzburg, there has not been a first-choice goalkeeper. He prefers to choose his keeper on form, and that is an admirable decision. But it doesn’t help when neither of your goalkeepers is playing well. Shu-Aib Walters started the season but was soon ditched for Virgil Vries. Vries had then been keeping for practically all of the season when his form began dipping. His howler in a 2-1 loss to Sundowns last week ultimately cost him his place, and Walters was reinstated for last weekend’s 2-1 loss in Polokwane. Who will start the new year in goal remains a mystery, but whoever it is will have to be better than they were in 2014 if they want to keep their place.

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