Earlier finals fuel United’s spirit

2008-04-16 00:00

THE National First Division final between Maritzburg United and FC AK has been brought forward a week, and in an added boost to United, they will play away in Gauteng in the first leg and at home at Harry Gwala Stadium in the second.

“The PSL executive met today and decided the NFD final will be brought forward from May 10 and 17 to May 3 or 4 and May 10 or 11,” United team manager Quintin Jettoo said yesterday.

United have welcomed the news because it means only a three-week break between the team’s last match of the Coastal Stream against Durban Stars on Saturday rather than a month, which means less time for the PMB team to fall out of the peak they hit in their last two matches.

United beat then-leaders Bay United 1-0 then Stars 3-1 to win the stream and qualify for the final, the winners of which qualify for the Premier Soccer League.

Chairman Farouk Kadodia said: “The final being brought forward means it is only two weekends between our last stream game and the final as opposed to three, which could have been a bit much.

“To play away in the first leg also gives us the chance to play for a result, or at least a draw, in Johannesburg, and then drum up support for the second match in Pietermaritzburg.”

The first leg is at Eldorado Park in Johannesburg. Kadodia said he hopes all stakeholders get behind United for the second leg.

“This could be the last chance for the city to have a team in the PSL ahead of the 2010 World Cup,” he said.

The chairman praised his team’s players and coaching staff for the significant achievement of winning the Coastal Stream by two points to reach the final.

“We had a slump in January, but then everyone got together behind the cause and it all came together. Individually, each player’s contribution was excellent.

“The back four were so solid, I think our goalkeeper, Dominic Sithole, was never truly tested this season, and when he was, he responded well. The central midfielders, John Arwuah and Lynch Pule, complemented each other and that was crucial. Out wide we had good choices in Omar Hendricks, Justice Sithole and Sipho Mngomezulu.

“And for the manner in which the players gelled together, and with the coaching staff, credit must go to the coach [Ian Palmer].”

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