United expect a tough game against well-drilled Bloem Celtic

2009-12-09 00:00

THE games just keep on coming as the Premier Soccer League races towards its Christmas break, and for Maritzburg United the tough fixtures continue too as they take on Bloemfontein Celtic in front of their fanatical supporters at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium tonight.

After five successive games played between midweek and weekend, United have four more to go in the same fashion before the league finally takes a much-needed respite.

Celtic, who fought relegation last season, have had a far improved campaign in 2009/10. The only blemish is that they have only been able to notch up three wins at home in front of some of the best supporters in the country.

But Phunya Sele Sele are in confident mood ahead of tonight’s game.

“Maritzburg United will have to do something extraordinary to take points from us,” said former United central defender Gary Goldstone. “United will find it difficult when they travel here, and we definitely plan on giving them a tough time.”

Three points is what Celtic will want after a disappointing 2-1 defeat to AmaZulu in Ulundi on the weekend, where the Free Staters looked the superior side, but failed to take their chances and were punished 10 minutes from time when Ayanda Dlamini scored the winning goal.

“We conceded two soft goals and it was a game we felt we shouldn’t have lost,” Goldstone admitted. “Now we will look to bounce back against Maritzburg at home.”

United coach Ernst Middendorp expects a tough game against Owen Da Gama’s well-drilled Celtic.

“Celtic fought relegation last season and that’s turned them into a strong team. They’re in a good position in the league and we know what’s coming,” Middendorp said last night.

“We’ve discussed in the team how now we need to take the next step — a little bit more movement up-front and not just playing well in the build-ups, but also turning it into something.”

United have not had much luck in their past two games. Refereeing decisions went against them in a 3-1 defeat against Platinum Stars at Woodburn Stadium. Then Kaizer Chiefs scored two late goals in a defeat by the same scoreline at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday.

The Team of Choice have right-back Peter Petersen back from suspension.

“I was not unhappy with how Byron Hendricks played at right-back on Sunday and I will have to make a decision about who to play,” Middendorp said.

United’s three new loan signings — midfielder Kurt Lentjies from Mamelodi Sundowns, goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters from Bloemfontein Celtic and defender Mario Booysens from Ajax Cape Town — impressed against Chiefs and gave the PMB side a more solid appearance.

Rudolf Bester has looked threatening on the wing for the Team of Choice. Celtic have a number of dangerous forwards, including Sandile Ndlovu and free-scoring Nigerian Prince Olomu.

PSL preview, fixtures and standings, page 20.

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