United first club in the league to start pre-season training

2013-06-19 00:00

HE has a reputation as one of the hardest working coaches in the PSL, and Ernst Middendorp proved this again yesterday when his Maritzburg United side became the first club in the league to start pre-season training ahead of the 2013/14 season.

After meeting with his technical team earlier yesterday, Middendorp touched base with his squad after they had all been on a short holiday since the league ended on May 18, by facilitating a light session at Harry Gwala Stadium. The team will return to their Carter High School training complex today to begin their official pre-season training regime. The new season is set to kick off in the first week of August, though no official fixtures have been confirmed as yet.

Among the notable absentees from yesterday’s session were Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila, who is on the verge of tying up a move to Mamelodi Sundowns, and new signing Nhlanhla Vilakazi. “Nhlanhla is still in Cape Town with Ajax at the moment,” said United’s commercial manager Younus Kadodia yesterday. “We are expecting him to arrive this week.”

But attacker Thokozani Sekotlong, who has arrived from Tuks, was given his first opportunity to meet his new team-mates as he looks to get his career in the Midlands up and running.

There was more good news for United in that Ghanaian centre back Mohamed Awal was present yesterday despite new reports doing the rounds that Kaizer Chiefs have put in a bid for the player.

Kadodia yesterday squashed the rumours.

“At this stage we have still not received any official offers for Mohamed,” the former Maritzburg College pupil said.

With most of the squad in seemingly good physical shape, Dutchman Orlando Smeekes continues to battle his way through injury. Last season it was a broken foot bone that kept him out for most of the campaign, but this time around it is knee surgery that Smeekes is battling against. “Orlando was due to go back to the Netherlands on holiday during the off-season,” Kadodia said. “But he stayed in SA to have an operation on his knee and go through the rehab process.”

Kadodia added that Smeekes had just returned to light jogging and would be joining training sessions soon. Fadlu Davids and Ronnie Kanelelo will stay on as assistant coaches.

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