Walters could be back for United

2012-03-31 00:00

THE coach has said that it is not about revenge, but today’s Nedbank Cup last-16 tie in KwaMashu will give Ernst Middendorp and his Maritzburg United charges an opportunity to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition at the expense of KwaZulu-Natal rivals Golden Arrows.

Middendorp was sacked as manager of the Lamontville side in September and was replaced by PSL veteran Mushin Ertugral.

The managers locked horns in a league encounter two weeks ago at the same venue and United were trounced 4-1 by their hosts — a result that is indicative of the poor run of league form United have shown in recent weeks.

Middendorp’s men now languish in 13th position on the PSL table, just five points clear of Santos in 15th.

But cup football is different, and United turned in an impressive display in the tournament’s previous round to knock out Bloemfontein Celtic at Harry Gwala stadium.

Good news for the coach is that regular first choice goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters is in contention to return to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s affair. Walters missed the midweek trip to Rustenburg to take on Platinum Stars as he suffered a setback in recovering from an injured knee, but the Bafana Bafana 2010 World Cup squad member is likely to be named ahead of veteran Francis Chansa today.

Other than that, Middendorp is spoilt for choice and has a fully fit squad of players at his disposal.

The decision to bench Nigerian winger Felix Obada on Wednesday night is one that will probably be repeated today. Middendorp had said earlier in the week that opposition teams paid special attention to the speedster and that he would be used off the bench as an impact player in coming matches.

Interestingly, the 22-year-old played the last 10 minutes against Platinum Stars in a centre forward role — a position that he has been getting more acquainted with at training sessions.

With United’s misfiring in front of goal well documented, a fresh Obada in a central attacking role could provide the Arrows defence with problems this afternoon.

Middendorp must surely keep one eye on Wednesday night’s home league clash with SuperSport United when selecting his side, though. It isn’t at that stage quite just yet, but if United’s league form doesn’t show signs of improvement over the next few matches then relegation will become a very real threat.

But as much as a priority as the league may be, the players, fans and everybody at the club will want to keep this cup run going.

This afternoon’s KwaZulu-Natal derby kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

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