United ‘must seek revenge’ against Aces

2014-02-21 00:00

MARITZBURG United will meet Clive Barker’s Mpumalanga Black Aces for the second time in a week when the sides lock horns in tomorrow night’s Nedbank Cup last 32 clash at a floodlit Harry Gwala Stadium.

The Team of Choice had a forgettable trip to Mbombela Stadium last weekend and went down 2-1 in that match after missing a last-minute penalty. The result saw Aces move further away from the bottom of the league table while United continue to flirt with the danger zone, but that will all count for nothing as knock-out football becomes the order of the day tomorrow night.

While it may be difficult for United to focus on anything other than their PSL future at this time, coach Steve Komphela has instructed his charges to treat the match with the utmost seriousness.

“I think, from the players’ point of view, that they must seek revenge,” United’s mentor told The Witness at their Carter High School training complex yesterday. “If you lose your last match against the same opponent, you need to redeem yourself. You can’t lose twice to the same team. Us as coaches want to win every match, and I think we will be okay.”

Komphela has been around for long enough to not get carried away by the instant drama that accompanies cup football, and he openly admitted that he would rather have won three league points off Aces last weekend than beat them tomorrow.

But that, as they say, is history.

“Where we are sitting on the log we would definitely say ‘give us the three points and give them the cup match’,” said Komphela.

“But it is important to give respect to every match. There is a lot at stake. Sponsors, supporters, players, your board of directors … it is a question of honour. We don’t look at these things. We go out to perform in every match.”

Having said that, Komphela suggested that he would be rotating his squad for tomorrow night and the Harry Gwala faithful should expect to see one or two less familiar faces in the starting line-up. Instrumental playmaker Kurt Lentjies appears to have recovered from a hamstring strain, but Komphela will be tempted to give him the weekend off to prepare for next Friday’s crucial PSL game at home to Moroka Swallows.

“We will have to find a good mixture but we must not let the mixture demoralise the team,” said Komphela. “Whoever is given the opportunity must play well, and we are going to put a team out that can get a result for us.”

To United’s advantage, Barker’s side were in action midweek when they triumphed over AmaZulu on Wednesday night, but Komphela was — as usual — philosophical in his response to that notion. “It’s funny. The more matches you play, the more people start complaining about fatigue. And then when you play less matches, they start talking about rustiness,” he said. “So it really just depends what happens on the day. You can’t sit here and say what will happen. You have to go through the process first and come up with your analysis later. Football is a funny game.”

Tomorrow’s match at 8.15 pm will be televised on SABC 1.

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