United must take the game to Pirates, says young defender

2010-02-16 00:00

STRAPPING young Maritzburg United defender Mario Booysen says the club still have a good chance of finishing in the top eight, and must come out fighting in their Premier Soccer League match against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow night.

United fell four points behind eighth-placed Moroka Swallows with a 1-0 away defeat against second-last Mpumalanga Black Aces last Wednesday, and have some ground to make up in their last three games against Pirates, Free State Stars in QwaQwa on Saturday and Santos at home on March 6.

Booysen says United have to take the game to the Buccaneers tomorrow and go for the three points. The 21-year-old, who has impressed with his strength in central defence and intelligent positional play since being loaned to United from Ajax Cape Town, also concedes that the Buccaneers, while not at their best form, remain a quality combination.

“Pirates might not have been doing so well, but they did have a good 2-0 win over AmaZulu in their last game, and they’re always a dangerous side,” Booysen said. “We were disappointed to lose against Aces in our last game, but the guys are still very much up for it and I think nothing should stand in our way of bouncing back against any team.”

United were lifted by a vociferous home crowd in their return to the newly renovated Harry Gwala a fortnight ago to run out 1-0 winners over Lamontville Golden Arrows. A sold-out crowd is expected again tomorrow and Booysen says the atmosphere can help the home side again.

“It’s going to be another big game and a big crowd. Of course, you have to respect Pirates a lot, but I do think our home support can lift us again. And it’s good for football to be having crowds like this at PSL matches.

“I’m confident that at home we can win against any team.

“The guys will fight because our aim has been to finish in the top eight, and it is still very much a possibility.

“… I may be on loan here at Maritzburg, but the positive attitude that I am surrounded with has rubbed off and made me want to fight just as hard as anyone for that top eight place.”

Booysen identifies midfielder Isaac Chansa as the current danger playmaker at the Bucs. The Zambian international returned to Pirates this month after a three-year stint with IF Helsingborg in Sweden.

“Most of Pirates’ play has gone through Chansa since his return,” Booysen said. “But we have to be wary of every player at Pirates because they are all big stars and in any game some might have an off-day and others might be firing.”

After being loaned also to Bloemfontein Celtic for six months last season, the promising Booysen says he is looking for some stability to be able to establish his young career.

“I learnt a lot being part of the Ajax youth system and I think I’m lucky because I’m still young. I can’t say right now what the future is for me, but right now I’d just like to spend two or three years at a club and then perhaps move overseas.”

With United having suspended former captain Bageta Dikilu pending a probe into a poor performance against Aces, Booysen will have a new defensive partner against Pirates. United CEO Afzal Khan said Byron Hendricks, back from a four-match ankle injury, Senegalese Mor Diouf and John Arwuah, who has recovered from a fractured elbow, are all options in the heart of defence.

• By yesterday 3 000 of the 12 000 tickets were sold for the Pirates game. Tickets are available at Computicket, club offices and SuperSave.

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