Dhladhla returns, and United sign forward Schalkwyk

2011-01-07 00:00

MARITZBURG United have made two high-profile signings in mercurial forwards Gert Schalkwyk and Fanyana Dhladhla, and both are available to play in tonight’s Premier Soccer League game against Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala Stadium.

United have lacked that oomph and scoring finesse in front of goal to round off their inventive attacking movement this season, and are hoping Dhladhla and Schalkwyk, registered as Maritzburg players at the PSL offices in Johannesburg by club chairperson Farouk Kadodia yesterday, can help provide that.

Certainly United fans are no strangers to the potentially explosive talents of skilful, goal-scoring right winger Dhladhla who has been signed outright on a free transfer from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Dhladhla spent a successful six months on loan at United in 2008/09, playing a crucial role in a turnaround that saw newly-promoted Maritzburg survive relegation quite comfortably.

Such was Dhladhla’s form that Sundowns slapped a R1,8 million price tag on the midfielder, which was just too steep for United’s liking as they backed out of an effort to sign the player outright.

But the return to Pretoria proved a poor career move for Dhladhla, who barely got a game at the star-studded Brazilians and found himself out of contract at the end of last season.

“We had a chance to sign him at the beginning of this season, but the coaching staff were a little unsure,” Kadodia said yesterday. “But we now feel he will add value because we know he is a player who can slam in goals, which is an area where we have been lacking.”

Similarly to Dhladhla, Schalkwyk made a move from Bloemfontein Celtic to Orlando Pirates at the start of the 2009/10 season that has backfired for the much-talented striker. Schalkwyk has not been a favourite of Buccaneers coach Ruud Krol and has warmed the Pirates bench.

Both new signings can frustratingly drift out of games. But they are also creative talents who have shown they can be destructive players when given game time at smaller clubs.

Kadodia said United’s sole area of concern to address now is finding a reliable central defender, and the club have a 31-year-old German player on trial at present who might fill that role.

It is not clear if Dhladhla or Schalkwyk — who has been signed on loan from Pirates — will play tonight, though with their lack of recent game time they are likely to make an appearance off the bench, if at all.

Aces might be dangerous customers given that tonight’s game will be their first under new coach Paul Dolezar.

The Mpumalanga team have made signings of their own as the transfer window opened this week, bringing in midfielder David Mathebula and defender Thabang Rooi from Kaizer Chiefs, and veteran midfielder Benedict Vilakazi from Sundowns.

Tonight: Santos v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Athlone Stadium, 8 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Maritzburg United v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8 pm)

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