United boosted by signing

2008-02-22 00:00

MARITZBURG United have signed former AmaZulu forward Thando Ngwabeni ahead of their crucial National First Division Coastal Stream match against Western Province United at Harry Gwala Stadium tonight (8 pm).

Ngwabeni, clubless since the beginning of the season, might not play any role in tonight’s game, but the lively striker will provide coach Ian Palmer with a valuable option in attack in what could be a tight finish to the season.

United, who led by six points at the Christmas break, have drawn two and lost two since the league resumed to drop a point behind Bay United. They need to bounce back against last-placed WP tonight, then second-last Hanover Park away next weekend.

WP, who were sold this season to ex-Benoni Premier United owner Dumisani Ndlovu, have had their share of upheavals, at one stage putting 22 players on transfer. But the team are unbeaten since the break, draws against FC Cape Town (3-3) and Durban Stars (1-1) following a remarkable 6-5 victory over Ikapa Sporting.

“They have had a win and two draws so their confidence will be up,” Palmer said. “But we have [striker] Fadlu Davids and [midfielder] John Arwuah back from suspension, which is a big plus.”

The coach said his players are eager to prove themselves again as they return to a more familiar night game. United will hope to play with greater vigour than a flat 1-0 defeat away to Nathi Lions last week. “The guys’ attitude has really changed and they know that they have messed up, and are really keen to put that right.”

Palmer will phase Ngwabeni in slowly, and the player can also pick up his fitness in the reserve league that starts on Monday.

Standings: (after 15 games) Bay Utd 30 points; Mburg Utd 29; Nathi 26; Dbn Stars 20; Ikapa 19; FC CTN 18; Hanover 9; WP Utd 9

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