United’s Yende ready for Stars clash

2012-09-13 00:00

HE is a man of few words and certainly not a fan of interviews, but Maritzburg United attacking midfielder Mthokozisi Yende is as focused as ever ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial PSL clash with Free State Stars at Harry Gwala stadium.

It is a rarity in itself that these two teams meet in a top-of-the-table clash.

United, punching above their weight in the early stages of the season, go into the match in second place on the league table after a draw and two victories in their opening three fixtures. Stars are just a place behind United by virtue of scoring one less goal than their hosts this season.

“It has been a great start for us and the spirit amongst us is really good,” the former Kaizer Chiefs man, who joined United at the start of the season, told The Witness. “We are definitely looking at three points from Friday.”

Yende’s signing was one that signified Middendorp’s intent to bolster his attacking prowess this season. And while Yende had a slow start in the season opener away to University of Pretoria, he was instrumental in creating United’s second goal in their 2-0 win over AmaZulu nine days later.

It appears that Middendorp is favouring playing Yende just behind Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila — and the skilful trickster, already a fan favourite at Harry Gwala, is happy with that.

“Playing in attacking midfield is my strength, but the coach can play me anywhere,” he said. “I am happy with the way I am playing, but everybody is always looking to get better and I want to keep putting more into it.”

Stars have been somewhat of a bogey team for United over the years — so much so that the Team of Choice have never beaten Steve Khompela’s side. In the last 10 meetings between the sides, there have been six draws and four victories for Stars. Two of those victories came last season — 2-0 at Harry Gwala and a disappointing United display that saw them stunned 4-1 at Charles Mopeli stadium.

But if United are to change history tomorrow night, then they will need to place attention on their own game and not on what their opponents are doing.

“We have been preparing hard ourselves and we are not worried about what they are going to do,” said Yende.

Fortunately for Middendorp, everyone in his small squad of 21 players is fit and available for selection. With log leaders Kaizer Chiefs only in action on Saturday, a win tomorrow night, or a draw (if University of Pretoria fail to win at Moroka Swallows), will see United move to the top of the PSL standings, even if only for a day.

The match kicks off at 8 pm and will not be televised.

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