Team of Choice to push for change of semi-final venue

2010-11-15 00:00

MARITZBURG United chairperson Farouk Kadodia will travel to Johannesburg today to state the club’s case in an attempt to have the Premier Soccer League reverse its decision to move Sunday’s Telkom Knockout semi-final against Orlando Pirates from Harry Gwala Stadium to Chatsworth.

The league’s decision was made on Thursday on safety grounds. Kadodia said he has had an indication that the decision is not necessarily a final one. The United chairperson is awaiting a promised response to a letter of complaint he wrote to the PSL on Thursday.

“I am travelling to Johannesburg tomorrow [today] to address the Telkom Knockout organising committee in person, as I want to state our case to them,” Kadodia said.

United go into Sunday’s semi-final in reasonably good form, having notched up their sixth match unbeaten on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Santos at Athlone Stadium.

An injury time penalty by Rudolf Bester, who was clipped by Thabiso Ntloana in the Santos area, earned United a 91st-minute equaliser.

Santos had taken the lead from the game’s first penalty, after Fabian McCarthy had pushed Sekou Camara off the ball. The Malian striker easily beat Shu-aib Walters for a 70th minute lead to the home team.

Before that, the game appeared to be headed for a draw anyway, as Santos might have been dominating play but did not look like they would score in open play.

Two teams who had both gone five league and cup matches unbeaten and have both reached the Telkom semis (Santos play Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday night) effectively cancelled each other out.

United coach Ernst Middendorp, while pleased with a tough draw earned away against last season’s fourth-placed finishers, said United still have not clicked into top gear yet.

The PMB team created few chances on Saturday, the best being by Bester when he forced a superb save from Tshepo Motsoeneng within minutes of Camara’s penalty.

“It’s a good result,” Middendorp said. “Santos had just beaten Chiefs and like us they have also reached the Telkom semi-finals. To get a draw in Cape Town was good.

“But our intention, really, was to go out and play for everything. Their goalkeeper was the man of the match and this shows that we missed some good opportunities.

“Then there was the mistake in defence with the penalty we conceded — and it was a penalty, no doubt about that.

“It was a bit of not being alert, not being in the right position, being a bit surprised. If this was the first match of the week and not the third it would not have happened.”

United’s defence has improved markedly since a four-match winless start to the season, conceding four goals in six games, though in attack the PMB team remain at times a little disjointed.

“Kurt Lentjies came back for his first match since September, John Arwuah has been finding his best form after being out for a season.

“Diyo Sibisi was not used regularly last season, but I am asking him to start three matches in a week. Fadlu Davids has just had two operations. It’s all of these things that add up,” Middendorp said.

“I think as we get better the points we are winning can become three points. Our league position needs that to happen. You cannot repair a bad start from your first four matches in three matches.”

Right-back Peter Petersen, who missed Saturday’s match, and left-back Elias Ngwepe, who went off at half time, will miss a few days’ training this week with flu.

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