Middendorp: Few changes against Bucs

2012-12-13 00:00

WHILE satisfied with his side’s PSL performance so far this season, Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has confirmed that he will be making a few changes to his side for tomorrow night’s “home” clash against Orlando Pirates at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Acknowledging that it has been a tough few months physically for his small squad, Middendorp said he would be looking to freshen things up tomorrow night.

“Our concept is still very clear, but we will have some changes for different reasons. We have lost our last two games and we have been a little too casual. This [tomorrow night’s match] is a situation that we need to handle,” the coach said.

Middendorp would not confirm the exact areas he would be looking to make changes in, but the suspension of centre back Mohamed Awal might make room for David Booysen to be handed a rare start alongside his brother Mario at the heart of United’s defence.

Right back Peter Petersen, now fully recovered from injury and well rested, is also expected to make a return to Middendorp’s starting lineup.

Middendorp said certain players in his squad had performed exceptionally well this season and, as a result, were now being targeted by opposition teams.

“We have seen Delron [Buckley], Cuthbert [Malajila] and Terrance [Mandaza] all being man-marked,” said the German tactician.

“It is good. We have earned this respect as a team, but now we must find a solution to it. In our last two games, we have been a little bit flat and have allowed the opposition to attack us and we have lacked a clear and straightforward drive into the opposition’s goal.”

But despite being on the wrong side of two 1-0 scorelines against Platinum Stars and then Ajax Cape Town, Middendorp remains optimistic as his side look to enter the new year firmly rooted in the league’s top four.

United played out of their skins to win the same fixture last season 2-1 at Harry Gwala while on a brief hot streak under then manager Ian Palmer, but the success under Middendorp has been far more cultured and has been based around a side that makes defensive structure its priority.

Only Pirates and log leaders Kaizer Chiefs have shipped more goals than United this season, and even without Awal, Middendorp will back his charges to keep a clean sheet tomorrow night.

The match is the PSL’s only fixture tomorrow night. Kick-off is at 8 pm and the action will be televised on SuperSport Four.

• sport@witness.co.za

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