United’s match against Wits should be an indicator of their away form

2009-08-19 00:00

MARITZBURG United came through one big test with their 1-1 opening Premier Soccer League draw against defending champions SuperSport United at Woodburn Stadium, now the PMB team will get an early indicator of their away form against Wits University at Bidvest Stadium tonight.

In 2008/09, United’s most glaring deficiency was playing away from home, where they bled goals and took some heavy beatings, including a 4-1 defeat to Wits in last season’s corresponding fixture. Tonight Gordon Igesund’s new-look team will be out to show that their travelling form will be better this season.

Igesund says he has no fears; United will be better on the road this season, and puts their poor away form in 2008/09 down to lack of fitness caused by a difficult pre-season.

“The guys hadn’t had any aerobic or anaerobic training. Now they can run, and play at altitude and still have energy at the end of the game,” the coach said last night.

Roger de Sa’s Wits have looked their normal solid, well-organised selves at the start of the current campaign, though with some astute new signings could be a truly dangerous combination.

These include defender Michael Morton on loan from Orlando Pirates, and potentially devastating midfielder Thando Mngomeni from Mamelodi Sundowns. Striker Calvin Kadi scored a brace in the Students’ opening 2-2 draw against AmaZulu.

“Every game against Wits is tough,” Igesund said. “They’ve proved themselves over the years and have looked strong so far this season.

“But we got a lot of confidence from our opening result and performance, and especially the way we played in the second half. Now we want to take that into tomorrow night’s game.”

Igesund said he believes much of the early-season rustiness United displayed against SuperSport has been ironed out in the 11-day interim since that opening draw.

United looked very fit in their opener, and their pace and ability to run hard for 90 minutes rattled the PSL champions, especially in the second half. The new-look side’s lack of competitive match practise and the fact that they were still new to each other showed in an inability to put their foot on the ball and find each other with their passes.

“I’m very happy with the way the team has trained over the last week,” Igesund said. “We’ve been able to work on a few things that we didn’t do well against SuperSport, which is mainly the passing.

“We also started with eight new players against SuperSport. The more the guys train together the more they will develop an understanding.

“Tactically the players know what to do. I watched Wits’s game against AmaZulu and I think I know what to expect from them. I’m sure we’ll go up there and give them a tough game.”

Peter Petersen and Byrone Hendricks picked up slight knocks against Supersport and Igesund is considering making one or two changes. With left-back Elias Ngwepe back from suspension, James Madidilane might move back to his preferred right-back position in place of Petersen.

The biggest game of tonight’s seven matches is between Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns at Ellis Park. Both consider themselves title contenders, and both started with victories — Pirates 1-0 away to Ajax Cape Town and Sundowns 2-0 at home to Mpumalanga Black Aces — so tonight’s clash could be a sizzling one.

 

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Jomo Cosmos (Chatsworth Stadium, 3 pm), Platinum Stars v AmaZulu (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 7.30 pm), Santos v Bloemfontein Celtic (Newlands, 7.30 pm), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Moroka Swallows (Puma Rugby Stadium, 7.30 pm), Free State Stars v Ajax Cape Town (Charles Mopeli Stadium, 7.30 pm - SSpt Blitz), Orlando Pirates v Mamelodi Sundowns (Ellis Park, 7.30 pm - SSpt 4), Wits University v Maritzburg United (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm)

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