Pressure's on, says Palmer

2011-12-06 00:00

A POINT on the road during a difficult time would usually be enough to satisfy a struggling football coach, but Maritzburg United’s Ian Palmer has said his side could have snatched victory in Sunday’s PSL 0-0 draw with AmaZulu in Durban.

“We aren’t very happy with the result; we had our chances to score,” Palmer told The Witness yesterday. “[Felix] Obada and Kurt [Lentjies] had their chances and we could have sneaked a goal in, especially near the end.”

United have gone four full matches without scoring a goal.

“We haven’t won in six games and the pressure is definitely on,” admitted Palmer.

United next face the PSL’s wooden spoon favourites, Jomo Cosmos, in Pietermaritzburg on December 17, with this weekend reserved for the Telkom Knockout final between Wits and Orlando Pirates.

It will be the perfect opportunity for United to find their feet in front of goal once more, but they may be forced to do so without regular striker Diyo Sibisi.

“We are still waiting for the results of Diyo’s MRI scans, so we are not sure what will happen just yet,” said Palmer, He added that Sibisi could be out of action for up to three weeks as he recovers from his ankle problem.

With an out-of-form Fadlu Davids, the logical replacement for Sibisi, Palmer said that other players in the squad will need to step up and get among the goals.

Lentjies looked much improved when he came off the bench against AmaZulu and has the proven ability to create chances, and with JB Ncubeni looking lively in midfield in that match, one of these players could be the one to spark something against Cosmos.

“JB is maturing as a player and I am so happy for him,” said Palmer. “He needed to become more aggressive, to stop being an impact player and start being a regular first team starter.”

Palmer also praised the efforts of Michael Morton, who has run himself into the ground in United’s last two fixtures, in the important central midfield role. With Chillies Madondo now available for United after the failed mission of the South African U23 side in Morocco, the coach knows that he faces a selection headache for Cosmos.

“Michael has done fantastically well in the last two games,” he said. “We need to assess what condition Chillies is in when he gets back and then we will make a decision.”

One of the major positives to come out of Sunday’s match was the clinical performance of United’s defence, which was mirrored by the fact that goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters was only forced to make one save of substance throughout the match. The centre back pairing of Mor Diouf and Byrone Hendricks looked solid again, and Palmer acknowledged their contributions.

“Together Mor and Byrone are fantastic and they understand each other very well,” he said.

There may not be any goals, but the point picked up at Moses Mabhida on Sunday has eased the tension in the camp somewhat, and there is a feeling that a wounded United is on the mend.

“We have our team spirit back and we know that if we are to achieve anything we will need to do it as a unit,” the coach said.

• sport@witness.co.za

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