Time for United to focus on PSL

2010-12-10 00:00

AFTER a run to the Telkom Knockout semi-finals, and the equally distracting saga of the last-four match against Orlando Pirates being moved to Chatsworth, Maritzburg United will attempt to get their focus back on the Premier Soccer League tonight against Vasca Da Gama at Newlands.

While success in all competitions is vital for the Pietermaritzburg team, their priority this season is that elusive top-eight league finish.

A 14th placing as the PSL reaches its one-third stage is not a train smash given United’s poor start in their first four matches. It was always going to take time to recover and begin inching up the table.

Cup victories have not helped at all. A tough recent league programme has seen some impressive enough results such as a draw at home to SuperSport United and narrow 2-1 defeat to Pirates, ending a six-match league and cup unbeaten run — all doing little to improve the league position.

Things don’t get much easier tonight. Vasco beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-2 in Johannesburg in their last match. The manner in which the result was achieved suggests it was no fluke.

Carlos Das Nevess’s newly-promoted team have made some good signings to ensure their survival in their first season and they are tightly organised and well-drilled too — hence their 10th position in the league.

Sibusiso Zuma scored against Chiefs, and as the Capetonians’ leading marksman he is potentially one of the astute signings of the season.

Defensive midfielder Cole Alexander, winger Jonathan Armogam, defensive midfielder Lebohang Mothibantwa and goalkeeper Posnett Omony make for a competitive array of players at Das Neves’s disposal.

United can harp on all they want about it being a tough league and there being no easy games.

It’s a point taken, but also one that can only go so far in terms of the tangible results of the side’s league position and where they want to finish at the end of the season.

This is the best squad Maritzburg have put together yet in the PSL, under the best coach in Ernst Middendorp.

They seem a good enough line-up to be able to finish in the top eight, which is the minimum breakthrough result United are aiming for this season.

To do that they will have to fetch the results in the tough matches, against good but not unbeatable teams like Vasco.

A negative result tonight would be disappointing for United, but nowhere near the end of the world. The PMB team have shown promising signs in their last seven matches, where only the highly rated Buccaneers were able to earn a hard-earned victory against United.

With the manner in which they have been giving a torrid time to teams at home, Maritzburg must be itching to finally get some games in at Harry Gwala against lower- to medium-placed clubs.

A valuable draw gained in the Cape tonight would, once again, hardly affect United’s league position — but every point counts, and it would set Maritzburg up for those tasty home encounters they have coming their way in the near future.

Tonight: Vasco Da Gama v Maritzburg United (Newlands, 8 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

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