United’s show of strength a sign of PSL potential

2010-09-10 00:00

MARITZBURG United’s second-half performance in their 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night showed the team’s potential for this year’s Premier Soccer League season, said coach Ernst Middendorp.

United have been settling their squad in the fortnight since the PSL kick-off, and this showed in their 3-2 defeat away to AmaZulu, and in a first half against Chiefs where the Team of Choice could have been more than 1-0 down.

A second half where United tightened up their play and took the game to Chiefs — and where they could have earned more than just an equalising goal — appeared to have confirmed that this could well be the strongest team United have fielded in the PSL, and one capable of realising the ambition of a first-ever top eight finish.

“Of course, it was the second half where we showed what is possible, and what the team can do,” Middendorp said yesterday.

“On the other side, we know it could have been 2-0 or 3-0 to Chiefs in the first 35 minutes. In the end, with Kurt [Lentjies] and David [Booysen] hitting the post and the shot by Mor [Diouf saved by Itumeleng Khune], I think both sides had to be happy with 1-1.”

A factor in United’s improvement was the introduction of Ghanaian John Arwuah, normally a midfielder, in central defence alongside impressive Senegalese Diouf, shoring up a back four that had been shaky against AmaZulu.

“I have been talking to John about playing in defence since January and initially he wasn’t quite happy. But I think with his ability he is suited to the position; he has the possibility to have a good understanding with Mor,” Middendorp said.

“There is still space to improve, but I am quite confident it is the No. 1 combination for the central defence.”

Also pleasing for Middendorp would have been the performan­ces of two of the six new youngsters he has brought into the team.

Booysen, who had a tough PSL debut at central defence against AmaZulu, put in a calm and accomplished performance at right-back on Wednesday night.

Striker Ronaldo Donnelly made his PSL debut as a substitute, and showed good touches.

Both players are just 19.

“I am convinced we need to give David time to settle,” Middendorp said. “He was playing in a different position in a big event and to have performed like he did shows his potential.

“He was in and out of our squad in the pre-season, there was some contract confusion, and he also got a new agent — so he had a lot to deal with against AmaZulu and was not quite calm. But you could see against Chiefs that he did all the right things in his position.

“Ronaldo, I think, has a natural striker’s instinct and ability. His first match in the PSL was against Chiefs and he was keeping possession well as I asked him to, and had one or two situations where he produced sharp chances. I am sure with time he can become a PSL striker.”

United are having a nine-day break until their next game, against Lamontville Golden Arrows on Friday, September 17.

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