The Team of Choice looks for winning ways against Wits

2013-12-16 00:00

PREMIER League action resumes today, and Maritzburg United are on a quest for a first win in six games when they take on Bidvest Wits at Harry Gwala Stadium at 6 pm.

The game was meant to be played on Friday last week, but this weekend’s PSL fixtures were postponed as the country mourned Nelson Mandela, who was buried in Qunu yesterday.

The visit of third-placed Wits comes at the wrong time for a United side who have struggled to get going this season and find themselves hovering dangerously close to the bottom of the table.

It is the first game in a hard week for the Team of Choice. On Thursday they make the daunting trip to Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria to take on league leaders, the free-scoring Mamelodi Sundowns.

Although Wits currently have the meanest defence in the league, like United, the Clever Boys have been shy in front of goal, despite having Benjani Mwaruwari. Like United, they have scored just nine goals.

The former Zimbabwean international skipper, who famously sunk Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Manchester derby five years ago, will look to break his duck for the season against the Team of Choice’s defence that has been generous of late.

United will also be missing the ever present Mario Booysen who is serving a one-match suspension after he was shown his fourth yellow card when they were beaten 3-1 by Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium last week.

With former Orlando Pirates defender Robyn Johannes currently injured and only expected back in January, David Booysen, Mario’s younger brother, will come into the side to play his first game of the season having just returned from a lengthy injury lay off to partner Mohammed Awal.

But, United will be quite thin for the game as Rheece Evans, Peter Petersen, along with veteran former Bafana Bafana and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Delron Buckley will be on the sidelines, while skipper Michael Morton, who conquered Xabi Alonso’s tormentor Andile Jali when Pirates were in town, is also a doubt.

Speaking to The Witness last week, United coach Clinton Larsen said they were spread so thin that one of the club’s promising youngsters could find themselves on the bench.

One name that comes to mind is Bandile Shandu. The 18-year-old Maritzburg College boy has finished his matric exams, and has been training full time with the club. His last game for the club was United’s last win at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban where they beat AmaZulu 2-0.

Shandu will be key to unlocking the bus that Gavin Hunt will park in front of Moeneeb Joseph’s goal. Joseph’s goal has been breached just five times this season and the former Buccaneer’s form this season should make Gordon Igesund sit up and take notice.

His opposite number and World Cup team-mate, Shu-Aib Walters, has also been producing eye-catching performances this season, keeping his side in the game at times.

The club’s top goal scorers this season, striker Ayanda Nkosi and attacking midfielder Thokozani Sekotlong, will also be important in this crucial, must-win game.

A win will also give United a confidence boost ahead of Thursday’s date with the Brazilians.

Should United win tonight’s game, they will move to 15 points and closer to safety. Lose, and they will find themselves stuck in a brown creek without a paddle.

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