United intent on first victory after solid start to the season

2009-08-25 00:00

AFTER two solid opening draws, Maritzburg United are intent on registering the first victory of their Premier Soccer League campaign against AmaZulu at Woodburn Stadium tomorrow night.

United’s opening two results — 1-1 draws against SuperSport United at home and then Wits University at Bidvest Stadium — are impressive given the context of playing the defending champions and then one of the most difficult away fixtures of the PSL.

Now, picking up their first crucial win early on in the season against AmaZulu could really set United on the path towards a successful campaign in 2009/10.

“Our first game was one to get under our belts — no one was sure how it would go against the champions and I thought we adapted quite well,” United coach Gordon Igesund said yesterday.

“Against Wits we matched them for most of the game. The attitude at home is rather to lose 4-3 than try and draw, and we are going to attack AmaZulu.”

Usuthu have also made a solid start to the league season, drawing 2-2 at home to Wits before beating Platinum Stars 2-1 in Rustenburg. In the MTN8 Usuthu beat SuperSport United on penalties in the quarter-finals before being outplayed over two legs to lose 4-1 on aggregate to Lamontville Golden Arrows in the semis.

Maritzburg have conceded just two goals in two games and Igesund said the addition of players such as James Madidilani, Mor Diouf and Byrone Hendricks has helped shore up the defence.

“But what’s brought a lot of stability is [playmaker] Noah Chivuta. He can put his foot on the ball and slow things down and we don’t give things away easily in midfield.”

Chivuta, signed from SuperSport, had only two weeks’ pre-season in the opener, looked rusty and struggled to find his passing range against his old team.

“I won’t make excuses about not training with United for long,” the Zambian midfielder said. “It’s hard to play against your former team. There was a bit of pressure on me and it was my first game. I thought we did well as a team.”

Chivuta said that with the pace of United’s wingers, Nigerian Felix Obada and Namibian Rudolf Bester, the midfield could make for a dangerous combination once it clicks.

“And it’s a good thing that the way we have been playing no one has really been talking about Maritzburg,” he said. “I think it’s one of the teams that can surprise a lot of people.

“No one knows yet what Obada and Bester can really do. But we do know — and that’s our secret weapon.”

Igesund said the good crowd United drew in their opener had made a big difference to the players, and he hopes the team’s fans continue to support the side.

“It’s a wonderful feeling the players can get playing in front of a crowd like that,” he said. “We need to emphasise that we are the local team, and we’re going to be better than last season.”

Of his first impression of United’s supporters, Chivuta, used to playing in front of smaller crowds at SuperSport, said: “The atmosphere here was something else. There’s none of the booing when a player makes a mistake. It’s just people enjoying the match. That excites us as players and you even feel you could play for two hours.”

•Tickets (R20 open stand, R30 grand stand) at Computicket, SuperSave in Retief Street and the club offices in Victoria Road. Free entry for pupils in school uniform. Kick-off is at 7.30 pm.

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