United take on newcomers

2013-08-03 00:00

MARITZBURG United step into uncharted waters tonight when they take on PSL newcomers Polokwane City in their first encounter of the season at Harry Gwala.

New captain Michael Morton said he was not sure what to expect from the National First Division champions hailing from Limpopo.

“We don’t know too much about them, but I’m sure Ernst [Middendorp] will have checked up on them and will tell us what he expects from us,” Morton told Weekend Witness yesterday.

Unfortunately for the Team of Choice, two of their new signings — Ashley Hartog and Nhlanhla Vilakazi — and Dutchman Orlando Smeekes will be unavailable for the game as they nurse injuries.

“The other new guys have settled in well and are adapting to the club,” said Morton, who added he was excited to get back to the field as they chased that elusive top eight finish.

After tonight’s game, the club will be out of action for 25 days as the focus shifts into MTN8 action.

Morton said he didn’t feel this would pose too much of a problem as it would give them an opportunity to iron out a few kinks in their armour.

It will be interesting to see what tactical approach United coach Middendorp takes into the game against the new boys from Polokwane.

The coach will have to be cautious and it is expected that he will go with what worked for him last season.

Having signed Robyn Johannes from Orlando Pirates, Middendorp will have to decide whether or not he breaks up last season’s partnership of Mohammed Awal and Mario Booysen in the heart of defence.

Middendorp might start with the familiar pairing while he gives Johannes, capped three times at international level, time to settle at his new club.

With new signings Hartog and Vilakazi unavailable, and Smeekes recovering from knee surgery, the Team of Choice’s midfield should also have a familiar look to it with Delron Buckley partnering new captain Michael Morton in the centre of the park.

Last season, Cuthbert Malajila, who departed to join Mamelodi Sundowns, spent most of the season as a lone striker. Ghanaian Yakubu Mohammad will start — the coach has said that he will lead the line — and he could be partnered by Terrance Mandaza.

United don’t have the luxury of a big squad, unlike many clubs in the PSL, and that was evident in how they faltered as the season neared its conclusion.

With the signings made in the off season winter break, those around the club have been confident that the players available to Middendorp should see the club achieve the highest PSL finish in its history.


Shu-Aib Walters, Peter Petersen, Rheece Evans, Mohammed Awal, Mario Booysen, Dillon Sheppard, Heinrich Isaacks, Delron Buckley, Michael Morton (captain), Terrence Mandaza, Yakubu Mohammad.

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