Malajila back to his best

2012-11-10 00:00

MARITZBURG United travel to Umlazi today for a Premiership date with KwaZulu-Natal neighbours Golden Arrows at King Zwelithini Stadium.

It is a fixture that has historically been tough for United, with coach Ernst Middendorp’s men having lost four and drawn just one of their last five visits to Lamontville.

But United’s form this season suggests that anything is possible, and Middendorp’s charges are currently unbeaten away from home this campaign and in an impressive fourth place on the PSL log.

While United are boosted by the return to form of striker Cuthbert Malajila — who scored twice in the 2-1 win over Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday night — they will be without the presence of coach Ernst Middendorp on the touchline as the 54-year-old serves the first of two touchline bans following his red card against Celtic.

How much of an impact this will have on the match remains to be seen, although the match officials will probably happier than anybody to have a break from the sometimes too passionate coach.

Malajila is a confident figure after getting back among the goals this week and suggests that United have what it takes to change their poor record away to Arrows.

“I am very happy to be back scoring; it had been a long time,” Malajila told Weekend Witness yesterday.

“But sometimes this happens as a striker. You feel like you are playing well and it just goes like that.”

Malajila added that everybody in the squad was feeling in good shape, despite having played a physical league match just three days earlier.

“I think these back-to-back games are good for us, especially while we are winning,” he said. “They become more difficult when you are losing.”

Speaking about United’s poor record away to Arrows, Malajila didn’t seem too concerned.

“I think you have to look at this as a completely different game,” he said.

“Things are different now and I think that everybody can see we are playing good football.”

Team news is that everybody is fit and ready to go, with the exception of Peter Petersen who misses out on the trip as he recovers from a bruised hip, while Delron Buckley and Malajila are both a yellow card away from suspension.

For Arrows, coach Manqoba Mngqithi knows that United pose a different threat to the one he encountered during his first stint with Arrows six years ago.

“I think there’s been a big shift in their strategy. In the past they would rely a lot on loan players, which I don’t think gives you as much commitment as you would like,” Mngqithi told PSL.co.za

Mngqithi, who was reappointed as Arrows coach a little over two weeks ago, also had fond words to say about Middendorp.

“Ernst has done a very good job with the team. It’s a big turnaround from what they’ve been in the past few seasons,” he said.

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