It’s a must-win game for United

2013-03-02 00:00

THERE will be PSL soccer at Harry Gwala Stadium for the first time since December 18, 2012, when Maritzburg United host struggling Black Leopards in what is a must-win game for the Team of Choice tomorrow.

With their home fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns last month moved to Port Elizabeth, United have paid the price for spending too much time on the road with a string of lacklustre performances that have seen them unable to find the back of the net in any of their three league matches this year.

But while the fans and players may be relieved to be back at Harry Gwala, coach Ernst Middendorp’s home record this season — two wins from 10 matches — is poor considering that United still occupy fifth place on the PSL log.

Just two points separate United in fifth and Mamelodi Sundowns in 10th, so if United are to consolidate their position in the top half of the table, then victory at home against a relegation-threatened side such as Leopards is surely imperative.

But Middendorp refuses to hype up tomorrow’s clash.

“Obviously, it is important for us to win and we need to start getting the points to improve our position,” he said. “But I don’t want to say that this is our biggest game of the season — we are just looking for an improved performance.”

As United continue in their struggle to find the back of the net and end a goal drought that has lasted for over six and a half hours of competitive soccer, Middendorp has called on his players to calm down.

“In the forward movement we just need to be a little bit calmer, that is what I am really looking for,” the coach said.

With only attacking midfielder Heinrich Isaacks ruled out of tomorrow’s match through injury, Middendorp has a near fully fit squad to choose from, after a host of players spent this week recovering from various knocks.

But, and perhaps most significantly, Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila is suspended for the clash, after reaching his yellow card limit in the Nedbank Cup penalty shoot-out win over the University of Pretoria. Malajila has scored eight of United’s 18 goals this season and is the joint third-highest goal scorer in the PSL this season.

In his absence, Middendorp will have to find goals from elsewhere and he is likely to turn to Malajila’s burly Zimbabwean counterpart, Terrance Mandaza, to do the business as a lone striker.

The formula for United this season has been clear — don’t concede and we can win any game. But while that emphasis on defence worked in the first half of the campaign, it has backfired somewhat in the second, and it might just be time for Middendorp and United to think more about scoring goals than conceding any.

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.