United at the tipping point

2013-03-30 00:00

NOBODY knows more than coach Ernst Middendorp how important Maritzburg United’s PSL clash with Chippa United at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow will be.

With seven wins, seven draws and seven defeats to their name so far this season, United are in eighth place on the log and are at a crossroads in their quest to finish in the top eight at the end of the season.

“It is a massive game for us and we will go all in looking for the maximum points,” said Middendorp, whose emphasis up until this point has been on defensive stability.

It all makes for an exciting game tomorrow, given that Middendorp is expecting a similar approach from Chippa United, who are bottom of the log.

“I am sure that they will come here with a different mentality than what we have seen from other sides this season,” said United’s German coach.

“They will not play with a deep defensive line and numbers behind the ball. They will come here and look to attack.

“We know that to win this game we will have to be at our very best.”

With only nine league matches left and United facing a difficult run-in in their last five matches, tomorrow’s clash takes on even more importance.

But the mood in the squad remains positive, and in the training sessions, which are intense, the camaraderie between the players is clear to see.

“We have always had this good mood and spirit in the squad, but it becomes difficult when you have guys in crucial positions out injured,” said the coach, who has a fully fit squad.

“Now that we have everybody back we can at least relax knowing that we have cover and options all over the field and that makes things easier.”

With a number of players starting to show signs of finding form for United — Cuthbert Malajila, Terrance Mandaza, Heinrich Isaacks, Mario Booysen and Michael Morton included — Middendorp will have a difficult task when he selects his starting eleven for tomorrow, especially when he selects his attacking players.

“It is not a problem because we know how bad it can be when you don’t have the players to select,” he said.

Middendorp added that he hoped the Harry Gwala crowd would show the team the same support that they did in his side’s last home game — a 2-1 win over Black Leopards.

“In all my years here I have never seen or felt support like that [Leopards game], so I really hope that will happen again.”

The match kicks off at 3.30 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

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