Arrows a stiff challenge for United

2010-09-17 00:00

A CERTAIN caution and steadiness of application in every game is the approach Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp wants employed at this still very early stage of the new Premier Soccer League season, as his team prepare to take on Lamontville Golden Arrows at Harry Gwala Stadium tonight.

As teams still size each other up, and attempt to assess their own readiness and potential in the early stage of the season, United face another stern challenge in just their third match of their campaign.

After a 3-2 defeat away to AmaZulu in Durban, then a 1-1 draw at home to Kaizer Chiefs, United engage in their second KwaZulu-Natal derby of the season tonight, against a team laden with talent and still something of an unknown quantity under new Serbian coach Zoran Filipovic.

Arrows began with a 2-0 defeat away to Kaizer Chiefs before bouncing back with a reversal by the same margin against newly-promoted Vasco Da Gama last week.

After the departure to AmaZulu of coach Manqoba Mngqithi in the off-season, for the first time in their PSL existence Arrows, the most consistently threatening of the KZN sides in recent seasons, have turned to a foreign coach.

The Durban side’s quality includes their centre-back pairing of Bafana Bafana prospect Siyabonga Sangweni and experienced Zimbabwean Joseph Musonda.

Musa Bilankulu is a rock in defensive midfield, playing alongside one of South Africa’s potential stars of the future, Thanduyise Khuboni. New young midfielder Nkanyiso Mlotshwa scored a brace on his PSL on debut against Vasco.

And, as Middendorp points out, any side that has the muscle to sign Siyabonga Nkosi and Bryce Moon has the advantage of being an established club, and one that cannot be taken lightly.

“Especially at the beginning of the season it is important to respect each and every team in the league,” Middendorp said yesterday. “It’s only after about five or six matches that everyone can start to truly evaluate themselves.

“That’s why it’s crucial in this stage of the season to be very straight-forward, to have a very clear structure and not be at all casual in any game.

“We had a good match against Chiefs, but Arrows won their last game 2-0, so there is very little between the teams. We need to at least repeat our second half against Chiefs if we are to be successful.”

While Maritzburg are still in search of their first victory of the season, if they do achieve it against Arrows tonight then it will have been a win hard gained against a team with as much quality as any in the PSL.

To get that first win under the belt, though, would serve the purpose of reassuring the players of what they should already know at the back of their minds – that Harry Gwala will be a difficult venue to visit in the 2010/11 season.

After a second half against on-form Chiefs, where United stamped their authority on their home ground to fight back from a goal down to a draw, Maritzburg will know that they have the ability to match any team at home this season.

Central defender Mor Diouf, midfield pairing Chilis Madondo and Musa Nyatama and forward Rudolf Bester – with two goals in two games – have been the early star performers for the Team of Choice.

With a marathon left to run, Middendorp will probably be satisfied with another solid performance from his team, even if the result does not quite go his way. But a win would certainly also be appreciated by United to get the wheels for the new season running smoothly.

Kickoff: 8 pm – live on SuperSport HD and SuperSport 1

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