Nedbank Cup in United’s sights

2013-03-25 00:00

WHILE their priority this season remains finishing in the top eight of the PSL, Maritzburg United have given their fans something else to look forward to with progression to the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

Goals from Mario Booysen, Dillon Sheppard and Cuthbert Malajila in Friday night’s 3-1 win against third-tier Tembu Royals in front of a capacity Mthatha crowd have booked United a home clash with SuperSport United on April 13.

United were 1-0 down at half time and coach Ernst Middendorp has praised his side’s efforts in the second period.

“How we played in the second half is how I would have expected us to play from the beginning,” said Middendorp.

“We were a little bit too casual, but the most important thing is that we are through to the last eight where we want to be.”

United were given further encouragement on Friday night when Namibian attacking midfielder Heinrich Isaacks came off the bench for his first appearance since February when he was injured in a league clash.

“He looked good and made an immediate impact and it is good to have him back,” said Middendorp of his January signing.

But before any thoughts are allowed to stray towards cup glory, United must turn their immediate attention to next Sunday.

A PSL clash against bottom-of-the-log Chippa United awaits and, as Middendorp knows all too well, log position counts for very little at this stage of the season.

With Chippa fighting a battle against relegation, United have slipped from fifth to eighth on the log and are desperate for three points to help consolidate a position in the top half of the table.

“Everybody has their own battles now; we are just as desperate for points as they [Chippa] are,” said Middendorp.

“Playing at home is good and I hope we have the same support as we did towards the end of the last game against Leopards [United won 2-1 at home].”

Attacker Orlando Smeekes, who has been out of action since breaking his foot in November, is due to take part in his first full training session today, while centre-back Mohamed Awal will meet up with the squad tomorrow after being on international duty with Ghana.

If other results go United’s way this weekend, they can move back up to fifth position on the log with victory over Chippa on Sunday.

The match kicks off at 3.30 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

• sport@witness.co.za

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