Newcomer Mkhonza says United can still be contenders

2008-12-04 00:00

MARITZBURG United’s loss in form might have fans concerned, but new signing Siphiwe Mkhonza says that, unlikely as it may sound, the PMB team can still fight for a place near the top of the Premier Soccer League.

United turned around a six-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Bay United at Woodburn Stadium last week. Now the Team of Choice will hope to continue steadying the ship away to Free State Stars at Goble Park in Bethlehem tomorrow.

After that United have an 11-day break until their next fixture away to Mamelodi Sundowns because the PMB side’s home match against Orlando Pirates has been postponed from next Sunday to a date yet to be decided, thanks to Bucs reaching next Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final.

For Mkhonza, the move to Maritzburg is a chance to resurrect his career after a frustrating year warming the bench at Supersport United.

The former Kaizer Chiefs and Golden Arrows central defender was released by the league champions at the end of last season, and initially found it hard to find a new club. United’s problems in central defence saw the team snap Mkhonza up a month ago and the defender believes he has made the right move.

“Maritzburg are a good club,” he said yesterday. “I have just joined but I was quite surprised at how much support they have.

“Now it’s a question of us getting a few results. We’ve only played 10 games, so it will take some time for the team to gel. But with the coach [Gordon Igesund] and technical staff we have I think everything will work out fine.”

Mkhonza’s arrival to partner Bageta Dikilu in central defence appears to have steadied United at the back. But he says it was a heart-to-heart between the defenders that has had an effect on the back four’s performance.

“We are not yet there, but as defenders we sat down and said, ‘now we are sick of this’. We know that if we keep a clean sheet at least we will have one point.

“Sometimes it is good to look at things from all angles and see what you are doing wrong. We decided it is no longer about you doing your job, but you have to do a double job between your partner and you, and it has made things easier for us.”

Mkhonza says that a win over Stars is imperative as he believes United could still be a team in contention in the second part of the season.

“In our situation in the bottom half of the table, and with Stars needing points as well, we have to pick up three points. These are the games we must win because we’re not just playing to be in the league, we want to challenge.

“It might look impossible, but I have seen the players we have — there is quality, and the coach is quality and the resources are there for us to be in the top half.”

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