Komphela optimistic

2014-05-01 00:00

MARITZBURG United’s squad is full of optimism heading into Saturday night’s Nedbank Cup semi-final against Soweto giants Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium. There is no fear among them and an appreciation of the opportunity to collect the club’s first ever major trophy, but there is also a deep respect for their opponents, coach Steve Komphela said yesterday.

The side trained at their Carter High School training complex, and Komphela was bombarded by a swarm of media afterwards in a moment that was indicative of the enormity of Saturday’s match.

It might well be one of the biggest games in the club’s history, and it certainly will be the biggest in the careers of a large number of the players involved on Saturday, but Komphela has encouraged his charges to go into the clash with a deep respect for a Pirates side that is desperate for silverware after what has been a forgettable season.

“That would be the worst mistake of our lives, to think they were there for the taking. We need a lot of respect, and if we can carry that into the match with us, then we can make something happen,” the coach said. “But we are the underdogs and we respect our opposition. Pirates are a team who always have the capability irrespective of where they are on the log. We are fully aware of their strengths, but every man’s strength has a weakness in it.”

United will likely look to hit Pirates on the counter attack, using the pace of Orlando Smeekes as their trump card. But Komphela was not giving too much away in terms of how exactly he was planning to dismantle Vladimir Vermezovic’s side.

“I have to be guarded in talking about how we see them, because how see them will determine how we approach them,” explained Komphela. “All we can say is that we are fully aware of what they have been doing, and if on the night they do exactly that then it is something we are familiar with.”

Komphela would not put any extra pressure on his side by saying that this was the biggest match of his career.

“You don’t have to magnify it too much to the extent where it swallows you, because when you do that you start seeing things that aren’t there,” said Komphela. “But it is still a wonderful stage for the club to be on — in the semi-finals. I think the clubs deserve even more.”

Turning his attention to the atmosphere expected on Saturday, Komphela held nothing back. “It’s going to be crazy,” he said. “I just hope that we don’t go into the match with the mindset of a supporter. We need to go into the match with the mindset and emotions of coaches and players. We need to see things and interpret things.”

Aside from defender David Booysen, who continues to recover from a hamstring strain, United have a clean bill of health going into the match.

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