Pressure is on to keep winning

2014-11-22 00:00

MARITZBURG United go into tonight’s PSL clash with Ajax at Cape Town Stadium without the services of centre back Mohammed Awal.

The Ghanaian had been on international duty at Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and though he did not feature for the Black Stars in either of their two fixtures, he only returned to Pietermaritzburg yesterday and was left out of the travelling squad as a result.

Bafana Bafana’s Kwanda ­Mngo­nyama, meanwhile, made the trip after returning from Nigeria where he also did not get any game time. He is expected to anchor United’s defence alongside Ghanaian veteran John Paintsil tonight.

With the league campaign already a third of the way in, both the Urban Warriors and the Team of Choice have performed above expectations so far. Ajax are rejuvenated under former Pirates mentor Roger de Sa and currently occupy third spot on the league table, a point and a position above Steve Komphela’s Maritzburg in fourth.

Maritzburg have been one of the success stories of the season — their only losses in the league coming away to Kaizer Chiefs and the heavily resourced Bidvest Wits. But with only three points separating fourth and 10th on the log, the pressure is on to keep winning and move away from the mid-table clutter. With Chippa United not in action until tomorrow, a win for Maritzburg would likely see them move into a surreal second position, with only the undefeated Chiefs ahead of them.

“We are aware of the log position and it is definitely a motivation,” ­versatile defender Abel Mabaso told Weekend Witness before departing for Cape Town yesterday.

“But I think more important for us right now is to go there and give it our all and come back with a result.”

Mabaso, a recognised fullback, is on a season-long loan from Mamelodi Sundowns and he has been one of the standout players for Komphela this season. He has been used effectively at right back, on the right wing and in holding midfield already this season — a role that he embraces. His finest moment was a stunning long distance strike in a 3-1 win over Platinum Stars on October 18.

“I’m game for whatever position I need to play,” he said. “I’ll always give it my best shot and it is the team who are most important at the end of the day.”

It is impossible to attend a United training session these days and not see the positivity radiating through the club. And why wouldn’t they be positive? Things are going well, and if they can string together some good results between now and Christmas then a best ever league finish and a spot in the top eight becomes more of a probability than a possibility.

“There is positivity everywhere right now, amongst all of us,” added Mabaso. “We just want to feed off that and keep this good run going.”

Tonight’s match kicks off at 8.15 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

• Former Ajax Cape Town striker ­Terror Fanteni’s potential move to Maritzburg United has fallen through. United club officials confirmed to Weekend Witness yesterday that the Zimbabwean had stopped training with the club this week, and that a potential move to Mexico was on the cards.

Today’s PSL Fixtures

Kaizer Chiefs v Sundowns - SS4, SABC 1, 3.30 pm

Black Aces v Polokwane City - SABC 1, 3.30 pm

Swallows v Tuks - SS4, SABC 1, 6 pm

Platinum Stars v AmaZulu

Ajax Cape Town v PMB United - SS4, 8.15 pm

Wits v Free State Stars - SABC 1, 8.15 pm

tomorrow

SuperSport Utd v Pirates - SS4, 3.30 pm

Bloem Celtic v Chippa United - SABC 1, 3.30 pm.

V Abel Mabaso

“We are aware of the log position and it is definitely a motivation … But I think more important for us right now is to go there and give it our all and come back with a result.”

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