Maritzburg United still trying to find their rhythm, admits Middendorp

2010-09-21 00:00

MARITZBURG United are still trying to find their rhythm in the early part of the new Premier Soccer League season, coach Ernst Middendorp admits, and key players are misfiring.

These were the key factors that resulted in a 3-0 defeat to Lamontville Golden Arrows at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night, the coach said yesterday.

Middendorp used the examples of AmaZulu, who won their first game 3-2 against Maritzburg in the dying moments, but drew the next 2-2 against Swallows through a late equaliser, and champions SuperSport United, who lost 2-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend to a last-gasp winner, to show that teams have not quite settled yet in the PSL.

“Everyone is still trying to find a rhythm and so are we,” the coach said.

“It’s not to blame anyone, but there are problems with key players at this stage. We don’t see the quality from [Musa] Nyatama that we did last season. Elias [Ngwepe, last season’s player of the season] is making simple mistakes.

“We need 100% from everyone and to have the quality over a full 90 minutes, and not just half an hour.”

Middendorp hinted that United’s coaching staff might have adopted an approach that is overly elaborate for a young team.

“We [the coaching staff] have asked for movement and tactical structure and perhaps we have to check ourselves a bit. This team can express themselves. Perhaps we have to find a middle ground.”

While Arrows’ dangerous forwards attacked as a unit on Friday night, Maritzburg’s key attacking performers — Kurt Lentjies, Rudolf Bester and Felix Obada — have struggled this season to fire as individuals or in a team framework.

“Rudolf has scored goals, but his performance is still not what he can do,” Middendorp said. “Lentjies is not losing the ball — he is keeping possession and he is confident; but he needs movement from his team-mates.

“Musa and Chilis [Madondo] were giving away the ball in midfield and this puts the defence under pressure.

“But it’s not about one or two individuals, and as a team we have to do better.

“We had a lot of players arrive late — Diyo Sibisi, Bevan Fransch, David Booysen, Fabian McCarthy. It was not an ideal preparation. But this is what we have to work on.”

The coach contradicted the view of CEO Afzal Khan that former Kaizer Chiefs defender McCarthy passed a fitness test with “flying colours” before being signed last week.

With Madondo suspended from being red-carded against Arrows, Middendorp will consider moving John Arwuah to defensive midfield. If McCarthy is not 100% yet for the match, though, the coach might have to relocate the inexperienced David Booysen back to central defence, and bring Peter Petersen in at right-back.

“He [McCarthy] definitely did not pass with flying colours,” the coach said. “He made a good impression, especially with the experience he can impart on the young team we have.

“But he has not played for a year and we will have to see if he is ready yet.”

The coach admitted United will have to tighten up markedly in all areas if they are to get something from their tough next game, away against Bloemfontein Celtic tomorrow night.

“No doubt about it — we have to have better structure. They will be playing balls to [striker Nathan] Paulse, but we also have to pick up the second balls to Prince Olomu and Moses Spandeel.

“We understand that everyone has to push out, work together and be aware.”

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