United racing the clock

2013-05-09 00:00

TIME is running out for Maritzburg United in their quest to finish the PSL season as one of SA’s top eight clubs.

Sitting in 11th position on the league standings with just two rounds of fixtures remaining, victory against Ajax Cape Town at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday is imperative.

A win then would see Ernst Middendorp’s charges go into the final game of the season against Orlando Pirates with much to play for and a real possibility of achieving what has been the side’s goal all season long.

Without a win in six league matches, United haven’t been this low on the log since the opening week of the season back in August last year.

A solid and structured defensive unit that could hit sides quickly on the counter attack, United quickly took their place among the league’s top sides as the season progressed and appeared to have enough mettle to suggest that they could stay there.

But individual defensive errors have slipped into recent performances and goals have been a rarity, while the form of key players such as Delron Buckley, Mohamed Awal and Cuthbert Malajila has been questionable.

But Malajila — United’s top scorer with 10 league goals to his name this season — insists on being positive while not underplaying the importance of this weekend’s clash.

“I don’t know how else to say it; we are desperate to get the three points on Saturday and that is all we must think about,” he told The Witness after his side’s Harry Gwala training session yesterday.

“As you can see, we have been working hard. We are still there and we still have a chance to finish in the top eight.”

The Zimbabwean added that the squad would be approaching their last two fixtures with the desperation associated with playing in a cup final.

Ajax are fighting a battle of their own, and it’s one that United fans will be happy not to have worried about this season — relegation.

In 14th place and just three points above Chippa United in the promotion/relegation playoff spot, Ajax will come to Pietermaritzburg fighting for their lives.

But Malajila doesn’t think this will hinder his side’s chances.

“I don’t think there is a team in the league that wants to win more than us this weekend. Without these three points we will feel like we have failed as a team and as players,” he said.

Ryan de Jongh and Peter Petersen are suspended for the clash, but Middendorp has an otherwise fully fit squad available.

With the Maritzburg United Midlands Schools Soccer Challenge final between Maritzburg College and Mehlokazulu penciled in for Saturday at 11.30 am at Harry Gwala, there should be a buzz around United’s last home game of the season. United do, after all, need all the help they can get.

Kickoff is at 3 pm and the match will not be televised.

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