Two new faces join United

2012-08-08 00:00

AFTER the departure of Mor Diouf, Maritzburg United fans will now be looking to Ghanaian centre back Mohamed Awal to marshal the defence when a new PSL season kicks off this weekend.

The 24-year-old was unveiled alongside Mario Booysen yesterday as the club’s two latest signings in what has been a frantic off-season in the transfer market for the Team of Choice. Awal joins from Ghanaian Premier League champions Asante Kotoko on a three-year contract while Booysen (23) arrives from SuperSport United as part of the Diouf swop deal.

While the club and supporters will be expecting big things from Awal, who was named defender of the season in Ghana last season, the Feyenoord Academy product knows that his move to South Africa will pose different challenges.

“We had a great side in Ghana and we were champions, but that is all in the past now and what I achieved there will stay there,” the soft-spoken United number four told The Witness yesterday.

On being viewed as a replacement for Diouf, Awal was full of praise for the man whose jersey number he will take over this season.

“I have heard a lot about Diouf and I have trained with him — he is a good guy and a great player,” said Awal. “But I can’t challenge what he has done — we all have our own qualities and I just want to help my team to win games.”

Awal has already been training with United for three weeks and is confident that the team are looking good and are prepared for the season.

On his decision to come to South Africa, he explained that he needed a change in his career.

“It is always good to set yourself new goals and the league in South Africa is very strong,” said Awal, who first met manager Ernst Middendorp when the United boss was coaching in Ghana years ago.

“He [Middendorp] and I have a good understanding and I am glad to work with him.”

Booysen, too, is re-united with Middendorp after he spent part of the 2009/10 season on loan in Maritzburg.

“I played every game when I was on loan here back then, but I was very young,” the older brother of United’s David Booysen said. “I am more experienced now and I can bring a stability and consistency to the side.”

Yesterday’s unveilings mean that United’s defence is looking more solid than it has done in recent seasons, with the Booysen brothers, Awal and the experienced Byrone Hendricks set to fight it out for starting places.

“Competition is always a good thing — it forces you to play your best and give your all,” said Mario.

“The squad is looking good and we have the chance to fight for silverware and a top-eight finish. They have brought in a lot of quality players and this is a team that is looking to achieve.”

United start their campaign this Sunday with a tricky away clash at the newly promoted University of Pretoria.

While all of the new signings are fit and ready for action, United officials are working furiously to secure the work permits of Awal, Dutch midfielder Orlando Smeekes and Ghanaian winger Frank Sarfo-Gymafi ahead of Sunday’s clash.

The match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

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