Byrone’s back for United

2012-03-14 00:00

MARITZBURG United’s bid for a top eight finish in the PSL this season continues in Port Elizabeth tonight when they host Bloemfontein Celtic at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

With one point from their last three outings, it seems less likely that United have the muscle to finish in the top half, but coach Ernst Middendorp will be buoyed by the fact that regular centre-back Byrone Hendricks returns from suspension to partner Senegalese powerhouse Mor Diouf.

Hendricks was absent from last Friday’s 2-0 Nedbank Cup win over Celtic and was replaced by 22-year-old David Booysen, who put in a solid shift on the night alongside Diouf.

While Booysen’s performance showed that he has massive potential, Middendorp confirmed that he would not start tonight.

“Byrone is back and he will play,” Middendorp told The Witness.

“David had a fantastic performance in the last game and he showed a lot of potential, but he can play in other positions as well,” he said.

Booysen has been used as a holding midfielder on occasion already this season.

Other than goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters (knee injury), midfielder Calvin Sosibo (cruciate ligaments) and fullback Peter Petersen, Middendorp has a fully fit squad of players to choose from as he goes in search of his first PSL goal since returning for a second stint at the club.

With Petersen suspended, Thabang Matuka and Rheece Evans are set to continue on the flanks of the United defence.

Both have shown plenty of promise this season and their pace moving forward could be crucial to United’s chances of ending their PSL goal drought, which has lasted for more than three games.

Middendorp has suggested that he will not tinker too much with his team selection tonight after last weekend’s cup triumph over the same opposition.

With Michael Morton the form player in United’s central midfield in recent weeks, either Prince Olomu, who signed from Celtic at the start of the season, or Chillies Madondo could partner the former Orlando Pirates and Wits man in the engine room.

Middendorp opted for Olomu last time out, but Madondo’s performance off the bench that night was impressive and he will have given the coach food for thought.

While the physical presence of Olomu may be better suited to combating Celtic’s brawny midfield, the Nigerian has not fired since joining United and will need a big performance tonight if called upon.

Another option for Middendorp in central midfield is the club’s latest signing, Shane Poggenpoel, but the former SuperSport United man will not start.

“He knows that he [Poggenpoel] can give a lot, but he is still working on his match fitness and is not ready yet,” Middendorp said. “He will still be in the match squad.”

Kurt Lentjies and Felix Obada are likely to occupy the wings while Diyo Sibisi could be partnered up front by either Wayne Matle or JB Ncubeni in an attacking midfield role.

Happy with his defensive structure, Middendorp conceded that the side had been working hard on their play in the final third of the pitch.

“It is something that takes time,” he said. “Ball possession and the final pass needs to improve and it is something that we have been working on.”

Tonight’s match kicks off at 7.30 pm and will not be televised.


Tonight’s PSL fixtures:

Santos v Orlando Pirates

Free State Stars v Moroka Swallows

Platinum Stars v Golden Arrows

Maritzburg Utd v Bloem Celtic

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