Middendorp is still Maritzburg United’s coach of choice

2013-06-06 00:00

MARITZBURG United have held onto what is possibly their greatest asset with yesterday’s confirmation that 54-year-old German coach Ernst Middendorp has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2015.

Middendorp, currently holidaying in New Zealand, completed the paperwork via e-mail, says club chairman Farouk Kadodia.

United had threatened to finish in the top eight for the first time in their history last season, only to fall away in the final weeks of the campaign. But the work started by Middendorp in his second stint at the club was enough to convince Kadodia and the rest of the United board that he is the man to keep the Team of Choice moving up the PSL table.

With SuperSport United also looking for a new manager, there were reports doing the rounds that Middendorp was being considered for that job.

“We were extremely happy with the work Ernst did this season and are delighted to have him stay with us,” Kadodia told The Witness yesterday. “A high turnover of coaches is never healthy for a team.”

Middendorp earned a reputation as a hothead during his first spell at United from 2009 to 2011, before a post-match television interview in which he blasted the club sealed his fate. But the coach has since been spoken of in a far more endearing light, largely due to his professionalism on the training ground and how he has got the most out of his modest group of players.

“We always knew the good side of Ernst and we just needed him to calm down a little bit,” said Kadodia. “He has changed a lot from the coach we first had.”

Kadodia denied that Mark Harrison, Neil Tovey and Ian Palmer had been considered as potentials should the deal with Middendorp not have materialised.

In what is generally the busiest time of the season for a club chairman, Kadodia confirmed that he was fully engaged in contract talks with some of his players, while he is still very active in the transfer market.

With striker Cuthbert Malajila off to Mamelodi Sundowns, finding a replacement for his leading goal scorer last season is very much Kadodia’s priority.

“If you want quality then you have to pay for it,” said the chairman, adding that whoever his new star is, he will more than likely be foreign. “If you look at what strikers we have on offer locally, there really just isn’t anything available.”

United will also be in the market for a centre back, but they are likely to be done selling after the Malajila deal.

“We want to keep the squad that played last season together and we will be able to do that,” said Kadodia. “We don’t want to sell Mohamed Awal, but if something major comes up, then obviously we will have to look at it.”

Awal has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks, with clubs sniffing around the Ghanaian international, but Kadodia has said that the few offers they have received for the player are far less than what he is prepared to consider.

Meanwhile, an offer from Ajax Cape Town for fullback Rheece Evans was rejected by United.

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