Arwuah to undergo operation, Schalkwyk back against Santos

2011-02-24 00:00

KEY defensive midfielder John Arwuah will have an operation to the knee he injured in Maritzburg United’s 1-0 Premier Soccer League defeat against SuperSport United at Loftus on Saturday, though it is not clear yet how long the Ghanaian will be out of action.

While the prognosis for the forceful 2009 United player of the season is for an absence of three to six weeks, coach Ernst Middendorp said he would wait until after the operation to have a clearer idea of the situation.

Arwuah spent almost the whole of last season out injured with damage to the same knee.

“It’s difficult because they have been looking at the old injury, and is it a new injury and they can’t really tell,” Middendorp said yesterday. “John says he has a better feeling than the last time, but nobody can say 100% for sure how long he will be out for.”

While Arwuah and suspended Diyo Sibisi will miss Maritzburg’s game against Santos at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow night, forward Gert Schalkwyk returned to full training yesterday and should be available.

Middendorp criticised the challenge by Letladi Madubanya that led to Arwuah going off against SuperSport. The coach expressed his concern that as the season reaches its crucial stage, referees have not protected players from some increasingly rough challenges.

“And it’s not only me. I heard [Wits coach] Roger de Sa on the radio yesterday complaining about the same thing,” Middendorp said.

“If you had seen our first half [in the 1-0 away defeat] against Swallows, it was total brutality.

“And we are only just entering the final third of the season, so it will only get worse. It’s about position number eight or seven, or winning the league, or surviving relegation — the fouls are coming more and more. It will increase if the referees do not protect players.”

Maritzburg have dominated a number of games in 2011 that they should have won, but could not due to poor finishing. There seems a danger of the relegation-threatened team’s heads hanging, but Middendorp said the players need to keep up their confidence.

“We won against Aces and had a very good performance against Ajax. Even in our away defeat against Chiefs we played well, but were unlucky. We were convincing against AmaZulu and Celtic, but dropped four points.

“So in our results perhaps we should not be confident — but perhaps we should look at the performances to take confidence from.

“Yes, we have the problem in the final third. But if we keep focused on playing our football, and can improve in front of goal, then the results must come.”

The coach did admit, as he did on television after the SuperSport game, that “something is missing” from United’s play.

“Definitely there is always a little bit more that could have been possible,” Middendorp said. “There could have been more support for each other, and better decisions.

“But we can talk of a glass half empty or a glass half full and right now I think we need to talk in the positive way.

“If a player makes a mistake then his team-mates should not discourage him. We need to be fighting for each other.”

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