‘We are underdogs but watch out for us’ — Awal

2014-08-13 00:00


MARITZBURG United go into tonight’s PSL clash against Polokwane City at Harry Gwala Stadium unable to select four of their foreign players.

Defender John Paintsil, striker Mike Mohammed (both Ghana), striker Terrance Mandaza and fullback Khumbulani Banda (both Zimbabwe) are all still awaiting the approval of their work permits.

The good news is that the on-loan Sundowns trio of Abel Mabaso, Sibusiso Kumalo and Kwanda Mngonyama come into contention after they were not allowed to feature against their parent club in Friday’s season opener.

Komphela fielded four debutants on his way to a gritty 1-1 draw with the PSL champions in Pretoria. It was a match that exposed the defensive frailties of the coach’s new-look side as the centre back pairing of David Booysen and Mohammed Awal struggled.

To their credit, United grew stronger as the match progressed and when Awal slotted home his last-minute penalty to rescue a point, there was a sense that it was a deserved point.

Despite Polokwane’s 1-0 win at Tuks over the weekend, Maritzburg will surely enter tonight as favourites. But Awal, speaking to The Witness yesterday, said that he has no problem taking on the underdog tag.

“We are underdogs this season. We know that. But people must watch out for us because we are determined,” the 26-year-old Ghanaian international said.

“We have had a good start now and I hope that we can carry that through to tomorrow night [tonight] and get a result.”

While there were moments of concern in Maritzburg’s defensive display against Sundowns, Awal said that he had no problem partnering Booysen after the departure of David’s brother Mario Booysen to Sundowns in the off-season.

“I can play with anyone. We are not individuals, we are a team,” said Awal philosophically. “If we communicate together then things will go all right.”

Awal added that the mood in the Maritzburg camp was one of optimism, and that training this week had been centred around the mental aspects of the game.

“We know that we are nobodies,” said Awal. “But if we train hard, work hard and focus then we can play at our best.”

Komphela, with much to think about selection-wise now that his Sundowns acquisitions are available, has done his homework too.

“We watched them [Polokwane] against Tuks. They attack and defend well, but they are particularly aggressive when they attack,” said Komphela. “We have a plan for them, and we will take advantage of the fact that we are playing at home.”

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