Mind games save day for United

2012-10-23 00:00

SATURDAY night’s Telkom Knockout first round penalty shootout provided an “I know that you know that I know that you know” moment when former Maritzburg United midfielder Felix Obada, now with Moroka Swallows, had what was a crucial penalty saved by United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters.

That miss swung the momentum Maritzburg’s way, and Walters said afterwards that the Obada penalty was very much a sequence of mind games. The Nigerian winger hit his penalty low and to the left, but Walters was equal to the task and made a fine save.

“In training he [Obada] always used to go the other way,” Walters explained after the match. “But I knew that he knew that I knew that, so thought he might change it.”

And Walters thought right — his save and United’s eventual shootout victory sending Harry Gwala into a frenzy.

But as happy as United fans are at the moment, there is little time for celebration as a massive league fixture against PSL log leaders Kaizer Chiefs awaits at the same venue on Friday.

Saturday’s match was so emotionally and physically taxing on the players that they have lightened their training routine this week. But the good news is that all of the players from Saturday night have come through without injury or suspension and only Mthokozisi Yende (suspended against Swallows) will be unavailable as he serves the second of his two-match ban.

“We are on the right path now and we just need to keep up our form,” Walters said.

Pietermaritzburg’s very own Philani Zulu was a revelation for United against Swallows with his delicate touches and sublime skill, and he is expected to start Friday night’s match in Yende’s absence.

“He definitely has a lot of potential and he is very talented,” added Walters, United’s captain. “It is just important for him now to remain grounded, stay focused and keep his head out of the clouds.”

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

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