United hope to turn their bad luck around against Ajax

2013-12-06 00:00

FOR Maritzburg United to walk away from Athlone Stadium tonight with all the points in the bag, they will need their front men on song.

Clinton Larsen’s Team of Choice head to Cape Town in desperate need of a win to face a resurgent Ajax Cape Town side that did not start the current season in the best of ways as they only registered their first win in their seventh game.

Just like United, the going has been tough for Ajax’s strikers, with both Tasreeq Morris and Nathan Paulse each bagging one. And in United goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters, who has been a rock this season, United have something special.

However, despite starting the season slowly, Ajax have been on the up lately, collecting points in five of their last six games, with wins against champions Kaizer Chiefs and former champions SuperSport United in their last game.

United will have their hands full, and will have to be organised at the back. Rising star Thabang Matuka started the Orlando Pirates game at left back ahead of Ruben Cloete, and a lack of experience has let him down at times.

For this crucial game, where a win is vital, Larsen could select the experienced Cloete at left back, or then again, he could take a risk and choose to stick with the youthful exuberance of Matuka.

The rest of the defence picks itself with former Ajax centre back Mario Booysen, Mohammed Awal and Peter Petersen. With former Sundowns and Pirates defender Robyn Johannes not available until next year due to injury, Booysen’s younger brother David could feature on the bench after having returned to full training following a long-term injury lay-off.

Since Larsen took over from Ernst Middendorp, United’s midfield has been more industrious, and Ryan de Jongh and club captain Michael Morton have formed a good partnership in the centre of the park. Morton put in a man-of-the-match performance in their 1-0 loss to Pirates last week. He’ll certainly hope the football gods are on his side tonight.

His form has been impressive of late, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his name is on a notebook on Gordon Igesund’s coffee table. The same could be said of a number of United’s players such as Walters and perhaps Thokozani Sekotlong.

Rheece Evans will not be available for the trip to the Cape, which will leave space for Ghanaian teenager Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi. The Black Satellites star has done well when called upon so far this season. Veteran Dillon Sheppard, playing against his former side will be instrumental.

Speaking to The Witness earlier this week, the 34-year-old former Bafana Bafana winger said they weren’t even thinking about playing for a draw in this game as they try to turn their bad luck around.

Sekotlong and Ayanda Nkosi should get the nod ahead of Mohammed Yakubu and Terrance Mandaza.

The performances have been improving for United in recent weeks and they have created chances. But, what has let them down is their form in front of goal.

Sekotlong and Nkosi have both scored twice and the club’s top goalscorers this season — along with own goals — as the club tries to move on without Cuthbert Malajila, who finished last season as the league’s third top scorer.

United dropped to 12th after Wednesday night’s round of fixtures, and a loss will get them into further trouble. Win, and their confidence will be boosted for next week’s visit of Bidvest Wits.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport 4.

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