PSL: United under no illusions about battle for fourth spot ahead of clash with celtic

2013-04-05 00:00

MARITZBURG United have set up camp in Johannesburg following Wednesday night’s gruelling 1-1 PSL draw with log leaders Kaizer Chiefs as they start preparations for Sunday’s clash away at Bloemfontein Celtic.

With both sides very much in the hunt for a top eight finish – two points separate United in sixth and Celtic in ninth — Sunday’s match is massive.

While United were unlucky not to leave Polokwane with maximum points after creating far more scoring chances than Chiefs, coach Ernst Middendorp still has concerns over his side’s forward movement, despite the Team of Choice playing an attractive and attacking brand of football in their last two league matches.

“There were still the small moments, like the decision making, where we could have been better going forward,” the coach said of his side’s performance against Chiefs. “I know what we can do, I see it on the training pitch every day, and now we have to make sure that we are at our best.”

Ghana’s Mohamed Awal is highly unlikely to feature against Celtic after picking up a hamstring strain against Chiefs and David Booysen, another defensive option for Middendorp, is ruled out through suspension.

But Middendorp, whose side will play their third league game in a week on Sunday, has said that he is likely to make changes anyway to ensure that his side is fresh.

Middendorp said after the loss to Chiefs that all his players deserved the man-of-the-match award, but left winger Dillon Sheppard was a cut above the rest.

This 34-year-old’s professional career appeared to be over at the start of the year. An outcast at Golden Arrows, Sheppard was plucked by Middendorp in what is looking more and more like one of the signings of the PSL season.

His pace and intelligence down the left has been immense for United in recent weeks, but his mentor is not surprised by what he has seen.

“I worked with him before [at Arrows] and I could see his professionalism every day, he has been really good for the club,” said Middendorp.

The race for the top eight is so tight that, depending on results elsewhere, United could find themselves in fourth or ninth place on the log depending on Sunday’s outcome.

“We are fully aware of the situation and we are taking it very seriously,” said Middendorp. “Fourth place is still the target for a lot of the clubs, but every game now is about getting points. We know that there is a lot at stake.”

Sunday’s match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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