United bring Downs to earth

2010-11-08 00:00

MARITZBURG United reached only their second cup semi-final yesterday, and did it in fine style, with a first-ever victory over Mamelodi Sundowns by a convincing 2-0 margin in their Telkom Knockout quarter-final at Harry Gwala Stadium.

 After a fired-up victory in front of an 8 500 crowd of mostly their own vocal supporters, in the draw conducted on the field United received Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala as their semi-final opponents.

Bucs might be on form, thrashing SuperSport United in their quarter-final at Loftus on Saturday night for a second 3-0 victory in succession following a league win by the same margin against Ajax Cape Town, but Maritzburg’s confidence will be as high now following a resounding win against the Tshwane billionaires they had lost all nine previous league and cup meetings to, and the PMB team might even relish having a go at Ruud Krol’s on-song Buccaneers.

Kaizer Chiefs will host Santos in the other semi-final, with the last four matches being played on the weekend of November 21 and 22.

United coach Ernst Middendorp, who would have savoured the perfect wedding present having got married on Thursday, did not want to comment much on the draw against Pirates, concentrating rather on Maritzburg’s midweek league meeting against champions SuperSport.

“It’s SuperSport on Wednesday, we need points. We paid a price with Shu-aib Walters and Bevan Fransch picking up their third yellow cards,” the coach said.

“I hope Musa Nyatama and Kurt Lentjies return from injury. Here and there we have knocks and we have three days. I’m not talking about the draw now — we have work to do.”

Sundowns had large portions of the play yesterday, particularly in the opening 45 minutes where a Brazilians team blessed not only with an array of current and future internationals, but also a physical presence, often pressed United into their own half.

But Maritzburg worked themselves into the ground — right-back Peter Petersen finished the game barely able to run for the last 10 minutes — and mostly kept Downs at bay, while always looking dangerous on quick counter-attacking raids.

One such movement — with Felix Obada playing a cross from deep midfield aimed at Rudolf Bester — resulted in the 15th-minute penalty from which Bester opened the scoring.

Right-back Vuyo Mere could not get up to the intercept and ended up hand-balling, with referee Abdul Ebrahim pointing to the spot.

United played into the wind in the second half, but if anything were more on the attack. From a free-kick in the 59th minute the home team made the game safe, defender Fabian McCarthy getting up to Fransch’s delivery to head home United’s second.

Middendorp said teamwork was the key to his side’s victory.

“I think we had a good spirit, we were supporting each other. Here and there we messed up counterattacks where we could have had a better pass or clearer movement.

“Of course, if you have a 100% performance from the goalkeeper to the strikers then you have a chance, and I think you have seen it today,” the coach said.

In a sign that it just wasn’t going to be Sundowns’ afternoon, in the last 10 minutes substitute Surprise Moriri struck the upright with a scissor kick, then saw an effort saved at point-blank range by goalkeeper Walters.

Walters was back to his best between the posts and only shaded by McCarthy for Man of the Match — United’s new defensive signing’s stormer in central defence being capped by his goal.

Telkom Knockout quarter-finals

Saturday: Kaizer Chiefs 2 Free State Stars 0, Santos 1 Mpumalanga Black Aces 0, SuperSport United 0 Orlando Pirates 3

Yesterday: Maritzburg United 2 Mamelodi Sundowns 0

Semi-final draw

October 21/22: Maritzburg v Pirates, Chiefs v Santos

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