Optimistic mood in United training camp

2011-08-23 00:00

THE mood in the Maritzburg United camp ahead of what is probably the biggest match at Harry Gwala stadium this PSL season is an optimistic one, said coach Ian Palmer.

United host defending champions and last season’s treble winners Orlando Pirates tomorrow night, and Palmer said at the team’s Ohrtmann Road training ground yesterday that his side will be looking for nothing less than victory.

Both sides are undefeated after their first two PSL matches this season.

United earned credible draws at home to Bidvest Wits in the season’s opening fixture before coming back from a goal down to share the spoils away against Ajax Cape Town.

Pirates have not conceded a league goal so far this season, beating Black Leopards 2-0 away from home and then Platinum Stars 1-0 in Soweto.

United will be buoyed by the fact that their first-choice goalkeeper, Shu-Aib Walters, has recovered from the chest infection that kept him out of last week’s trip to Cape Town.

He is expected to start ahead of the club’s latest signing, PSL veteran Francis Chansa, who pulled off a string of impressive saves to keep United in the game at Ajax.

Palmer said, “All of our keepers are fit so we have a choice in who we play for the first time this season.”

The two sides have met in 10 league encounters since the 2005/06 season, with Pirates winning on six occasions, United on two and two games ending in a draw.

Last season Pirates did the double over United, winning 2-1 in Pietermaritzburg and 3-1 in Soweto, but Palmer will be looking for more from his side tomorrow night.

He said, “It is never and easy game; they are a good side with a lot of depth in their squad.

“But this is our home game and we need to register a win — for the confidence of the players and for our supporters.”

The fact that Pirates were in MTN8 semi-final action over the weekend against Mamelodi Sundowns, coupled with the fact that the return leg of that fixture is penciled in for this weekend, also bodes well for the Team of Choice.

“It won’t be easy for them playing back-to-back games like that so hopefully that will work in our favour.

“They will have to strategise who they use and when they use them,” Palmer added.

Pirates being forced to rotate their squad this week could mean a return to Harry Gwala for former United attacker Rudolf Bester, who was named in the squad against Sundowns at the weekend, but was not used by his new club.

Palmer said, “If Rudolf plays then that will be okay for us because we know what he can do.

“But they have threats all over the park so it is difficult to plan around individuals.”

United midfielder Kurt Lentjies is recovering from a toe operation and was at training yesterday, though he was unable to last a full session.

“We will see what the doctor says about Kurt tomorrow before making a decision about him,” Palmer said.

The match is due to kick off at 8 pm tomorrow and Palmer said he is excited and quietly confident ahead of the fixture.

“They [Pirates] have to hit a brick wall at some stage. Why can’t it be us that stops them?” he said.

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