United’s Shandu called for SA U20s

2014-05-09 00:00

MARITZBURG United, having turned things around in 2014 to ensure a successful season, have another reason to celebrate.

Central midfielder Bandile Shandu (19), who matriculated from Maritzburg College last year, is part of Shakes Mashaba’s 23-man South Africa U20 squad that will do battle with Ethiopia in Sunday’s African Youth Championship qualifier in Addis Ababa.

Shandu was signed by Ernst Middendorp when he was in Grade 11 at College, and while he has battled to break into the first team under new coach Steve Komphela, he has still been given his fair share of game time and is considered a big player for the future.

“It’s brilliant,” Komphela said of Shandu’s selection yesterday. “It shows the other youngsters around him that you can be given an opportunity. I’m really happy for him.”

Shandu’s selection also moves against the myth that only players from Johannesburg are considered at a junior national level.

“It is a really good starting point and a great opportunity for him,” added Komphela. “Once you have that junior representation, people will remember you. People will know that Maritzburg United have Bandile Shandu.”

It does mean that Shandu will be away when the Team of Choice host newly crowned PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday, but that isn’t likely to make too much of a difference as he hasn’t been a feature in Komphela’s squad in recent matches. It is a difficult game to get excited about anyway, given that Sundowns have already won the league and that United cannot break into the top eight.

But Komphela will treat the match with the same respect as he would a title decider.

“It is still a great occasion for us to be involved in,” said Komphela. “We will have the same intensity in our approach as we would if it was the game that decided the title. We still want to win every game we play.”

The former Free State Stars coach also congratulated Pitso Mosimane and his Sundowns squad on their season. “On behalf of the players and management we need to congratulate them,” he said. “There were changes in administration, coaches and players and this is a title that they have been wanting for a long time.”

Komphela meanwhile might be posed with a problem in terms of a striker. Terrance Mandaza is suspended after being sent off in the midweek victory over Wits, while Orlando Smeekes is still recovering from a hamstring strain. A decision on Smeekes will only be taken today or tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s clash will also be the last time that club captain Michael Morton appears in a Maritzburg United jersey. He will join SuperSport United next season. “He [Morton] has been a great servant to this club and I am sure the fans will give him a good send-off,” said Komphela.

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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