Battle waits for United

2009-03-03 00:00

AS if a stop-start period in which Maritzburg United’s Premier Soccer League game on the weekend against Wits University was rained out were not enough, the PMB team must put aside off-the-field distractions when they play Bay United in a crucial relegation encounter at the EPRU Stadium tonight.

United would have been raring to play Wits on Saturday and try to notch up three points at their home ground, where the Team of Choice have looked strong in recent matches with three wins out of two. Now they must lift themselves again, and ignore the distractions of a missing goalkeeper and link to a refereeing scandal, and pressurise Bay tonight.

The last-placed Port Elizabeth team have struggled with just one victory in their last nine matches. A 2-0 home win over Mamelodi Sundowns two weeks ago was not the revival Bay had hoped for and the PE side have gone on to successive away defeats against Ajax Cape Town (4-1) and Thanda Royal Zulu (1-0).

But make no mistake, the PE team have been putting up a fight in almost all their games, as any side will when so much is at stake in a multi-million rand league. United are likely to have to weather a storm in the windy city, and any victory or draw gained will need to be ground out.

And United have it all to play for. A victory over their one-time rivals for the First Division Coastal Stream title last season, would all but consign Bay to the last-placed automatic relegation spot. The PE team are a point behind second-last Bloemfontein Celtic and two behind Maritzburg, and defeat this evening would surely be too great a blow for Bay to bounce back from.

That in itself is motivation enough for United, never mind that Celtic are up against almost unstoppable Supersport United at the league leaders and defending champions’ daunting Super Stadium home ground in Atteridgeville tonight.

Bay have pulled in good crowds of close to 10 000 at EPRU stadium this season, where they have been at their most dangerous. Their good support has helped them not just beat Sundowns but also Orlando Pirates in the Eastern Cape this season, and coach Khabo Zondo said it is time for the side to pay back their fans.

“The players owe it to the people of the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth to get out and beat Maritzburg and give the club a lifeline for their survival in the PSL,” Zondo said.

Bay opted not to strengthen their squad significantly after winning promotion via the play-offs last season and, apart from sporadic victories over the big teams, have paid the price for that. Their dangerman is top scorer Jimmy Zakazaka, while the experience of Cyril Nzama and Patrick Mayo counts in defence, and Duran Francis marshals the midfield.

On paper Bay have the upper hand on the Maritzburg team, however, matches are won on hard turf, not on paper. It will take grit and determination for Maritzburg United to return from the Eastern Cape with points and Premiere League security.

Today: Moroka Swallows v AmaZulu (Olympia Park, 3.30 pm), Free State Stars v Platinum Stars (Goble Park, 3.30 pm), Bay United v Maritzburg United (EPRU Stadium, 7.30 pm), Lamontville Golden Arrows v Kaizer Chiefs (Chatsworth Stadium, 7.30 pm — SSpt 3), Wits University v Ajax Cape Town (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm — SSpt Blitz), Santos v Thanda Royal Zulu (Athlone Stadium, 8 pm), Supersport United v Bloemfontein Celtic (Super Stadium, 8 pm), Orlando Pirates v Mamelodi Sundowns (Ellis Park, 8.15 pm — SSpt 4)

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.