Avoiding the dreaded drop

2011-05-07 00:00

IN a desperate attempt to fight off relegation, Maritzburg United host Mamelodi Sundowns in a PSL encounter at the Harry Gwala Stadium today in a match that could go a long way to ensuring the Premiership status of the Team of Choice for next season.

United are two points clear of the relegation/playoff zone and victory today would all but ensure that they would be able to go to Ajax Cape Town on the final day of the season without any fears of facing the dreaded drop.

Sundowns will surely go into the match with their spirits dented after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Amazulu in midweek that severely hurt their title aspirations.

The Pretoria side were expected to win that one as they went into the encounter after their 2-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs last week Sunday, and a win could have seen the Brazilians to second position on the log, but Ian Gorowa’s charges choked at the King Zwelithini Stadium, only managing a result that saw their dream turn into a nightmare.

As things stand now, Sundowns find themselves in third position with 55 points, four behind first-placed Ajax and they will need something extra special in their two remaining games to redeem their hopes of lifting the Absa Premiership trophy, and hope that Ajax and Pirates loose their remaining games.

United’s striker, Diyo Sibisi, said the timing of the meeting against Sundowns at this stage of the league campaign is perfect.

“After experiencing some hiccups this season, it looks like now we have found our footing. We are going into this clash with our spirits high after our 2-1 victory over Mpumalanga Black Aces,” said the man who netted two goals that day. “We are desperate for a win to enhance our chances of avoiding the promotion-relegation playoffs and I assure you that we will give Sundowns the respect they deserve, but at the same time give our best to overcome them.”

Sibisi added, “We are facing our toughest period in the league and we are looking forward to another tough encounter against Sundowns who will obviously be looking to redeem themselves.”

United are buoyed by the return of Rudolf Bester who, along with Sibisi, will be expected to trouble the Sundowns defence. Bester has been out with injury for a month and United coach Ian Palmer has said that his return to action is welcome.

“It is great to have Bester back,” said Palmer. “He really does offer us a whole different dimension of attack.”

Sundowns’ captain Esrom Nyandoro confirmed that result against Amazulu had hurt his side.

“It was not good enough to collect one point against Amazulu. We needed nothing but a victory, but we are not giving up. Maybe our problem was that we lost too much possession in the middle and did not create enough chances, but we are looking forward to rectify that on Saturday [today],” he said.

“Nevertheless, we still have two games to play. The race is not over and we believe it will be decided on the last day of the league season. This is football and anything can happen.

“The result against AmaZulu is now history and our focus is on collecting six points from our two remaining games, starting with Maritzburg United.”

Today’s game kicks off at 3 pm.


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