For United, scoring beats style, says coach

2013-04-09 00:00

AT this stage of the season, picking up points is far more important than playing an attractive brand of football.

This is the view of Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp following his side’s 1-1 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday afternoon.

The result elevated United to fifth place on the PSL log, but Celtic appeared the better side on the day — a notion that Middendorp takes issue with.

“Everybody has been talking about the chances that they had and it may be so, but we had chances of our own — especially in the last 20 minutes — and we could have won it 2-1, deserved or not.”

The coach said he was extremely pleased with two points on the road in as many matches — United drew 1-1 with log leaders Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday — and he could not understand the negativity surrounding these results.

“We are at that crucial stage of the season when everywhere on the table is very tight. It is not about playing fantastic football, it is about picking up points. I can’t be the idiot who goes to Celtic to entertain.”

Middendorp said his game plan on Sunday was very clear — to allow Celtic the freedom to keep the ball and look to hit them on the counter-attack.

“What happened? They were forced to play long balls,” said the United mentor. “I’m happy with what was a so-called scrappy game. We had our concept.”

While fans may want to see the Team of Choice adopting the attacking mentality that was seen against Chippa United last weekend (United won 2-0) in every match, with just six matches left this season, Middendorp’s points are valid.

Would fans rather have a side that go all-out on attack only to expose themselves at the back and concede goals, or a side that are defensively sound and difficult to break down?

With only three points separating Wits in fourth and Celtic in 10th, points are like gold nuggets, and how they come about should not be as important as the fact that they have come about.

There will be a breather for United from the drama in the PSL this weekend as their attention turns to Nedbank Cup duty where they have a tricky quarter-final against SuperSport United at Harry Gwala stadium on Saturday.

Centre back Mohamed Awal was to be evaluated at training yesterday as he recovers from a hamstring strain, while Orlando Smeekes will hope to play a part in Saturday’s Cup match after being out for four months with a broken foot.

The match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four and SABC 1.

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