United must stop the errors

2008-11-13 00:00

FOUR defeats, 12 goals conceded, one scored — that is the rather miserable record that confronts Maritzburg United from their last four games after what had been a bright start to the season.

United went four matches unbeaten at the start of the season, but Wednesday night’s 4-1 defeat to Wits University at Bidvest Stadium saw the PMB team drop from mid-table to 13th.

At home at least, United have continued playing good football. But critical mistakes have crept

into the defence that have cost the team heavily. Coach Gordon Igesund acknowledges that if his players do not cut down on the mistakes soon, they may get into trouble.

This season, 4-0, 5-0, 4-1 and 4-2 scorelines have become almost the norm rather than the rare exception in the PSL. With teams clearly more efficient at punishing errors now, sides that make the least will be the most successful.

“I admit it is very disappointing,” Igesund said of the defeat to Wits. “Yet again we made silly, silly schoolboy errors in defence and that is something we just have to fix up. It is just not acceptable at this level.

“Against Wits we were 2-0 down within six minutes. They scored from a corner and then a free-kick where their players were unchallenged.

“We fought back to 2-1 by half-time, were all over them after the break, and then a stray back-pass to the keeper gets intercepted and it’s 3-1 again. And some of the mistakes are being made by the experienced players.”

Fans will be asking what has gone wrong at United.

“I don’t think anything has gone wrong,” Igesund said. “In our 1-0 defeat against Arrows [On Saturday] we had a legitimate goal disallowed and dominated most of the game against a very good side.

“I’m happy with the way we’re attacking and playing, but the players have just been losing concentration. They have to realise we’re in the big league now and you can’t do that.

“The league is so tight that if we win our next game against Platinum Stars we will be back in fourth place.”

Unusually for a coach who generally opts for a fairly constant starting XI, Igesund decided to change things around from the team that performed well against Arrows.

The coach was expected to introduce Gary Goldstone, returning from injury, in central defence for Sylla Mbemba, a culprit of some of United’s mistakes. Instead Igesund utilised Goldstone at left-back and pushed Elias Ngwepe into midfield.

“I wanted more penetration from left midfield and have used Elias in that position many times for Sundowns, and he did well for me,” Igesund explained.

If United’s recent tremor is not to become an earthquake, it seems critical that the PMB team restore confidence that they can beat teams at home with a victory against fourth-placed Platinum Stars at Woodburn Stadium on Sunday.

“I have a saying that I told the players — ‘comments don’t appear in the results column’,” Igesund said. “The result from the Arrows game will always be ‘Maritzburg 0 Arrows 1’ and there will be no comments on how many goals we had disallowed.

“We need to give our supporters something to cheer about.

“I know how the atmosphere was in town when everyone was excited about the way we played, and if we play like that in every game we will win a lot.

“But we have to cut out the mistakes. We are a new team and still learning, but we also can’t learn all season.”

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