United 'believe they can win'

2008-09-11 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Gordon Igesund seems to grow in intensity in his training sessions as match day approaches. And even more so for a big game like the Premier Soccer League clash against Kaizer Chiefs at Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday.

Igesund was a dynamo of energy during yesterday’s session. These past two weeks, following United’s opening 1-1 draw away against Ajax Cape Town, the team have worked almost solely on tactics.

The coach stands in the centre of the field as his players produce six or seven passes, then it’s “Stop!”, as Igesund makes a new point or corrects something that can be improved upon. It’s a session high on information and tactics.

Afterwards the former Mamelodi Sundowns coach is like an Energiser bunny, as mentally I count the words while he jabbers on in response to my questions (he produces around 1 100 for this 650-word piece). It’s infectious, and his enthusiasm rubs off for Sunday’s game.

Igesund is eager to impress that United are not “cocksure”. They know each game will be tough, but will also go into each fixture believing they can win it.

“The nice thing about it is the players believe in themselves,” he said of the progress that has been made in United’s preparations, given their late start to the season.

“I’ve told them, ‘who are these teams, every team in this league has got a chance to beat everybody’. Thanda Royal Zulu beat Chiefs last week. We can’t go into any games thinking we’re inferior — it’s all about how we apply ourselves.”

One of the aspects United have worked on has been the defence, which was at times alarmingly caught square against Ajax.

“On that day Bageta Dikilu and Sylla Mbemba were playing centre half, Tshepo Mashishi and Elias Ngwepe on either side, so that’s four players who had never played together. One was shouting to go forward and the other to come back or go in.

“We’ve worked on it the last two weeks and there is a much better understanding, and you’ll see a much better performance defensively. We’re not going to play offside, but we need to be organised and the line has got to be right.

“Our first game was an impressive performance where, after just the little bit of work we had done, the players applied themselves. So I’m imagining what we’ve done in the last two weeks, and we’re going to be a much better outfit. But we’re not going to be over confident.

“Some of the coaches have complained about the break these last two weeks, but for us personally it was a blessing. I think we’ve caught up and all we need now is games under the belt.”

Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral said in the press this week he knows what to expect from Igesund tactically. But the United coach points out that is largely rhetoric, and most PSL coaches these days know each other well.

“I can tell you exactly what Muhsin’s line-up will be and how he is going to play, and what he wants us to do so we can fall into certain traps. We’ve been in the game a long time and we know each other.

“He will say things like that, but he doesn’t know exactly what I’ll be doing on Sunday, and I don’t know exactly what he’ll be doing. There’s always something each side doesn’t know, and it’s the something special you produce that can win the game.

“Besides, it’s not Muhsin and me playing out there, it’s our teams on the park and they have to do the job.”

Goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap was back in training yesterday following a case of kidney stones.

Chiefs have star striker José Torrealba out suspended, while United have had niggling injuries to right-back Peter Petersen and midfielder Million Makhubela.

• Tickets are available from Computicket (Shoprite), SuperSave in Retief Street and the club offices at 397 Victoria Road.

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