Mood at United training camp upbeat before clash against Chiefs on Saturday

2013-09-12 00:00

IT’S all systems go as Maritzburg United prepare themselves ahead of their upcoming PSL clash against league champions Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Both sides are winless in two Premiership games after starting the season with identical wins (1-0) against newly promoted sides.

Having bagged just four points from their first three games, United coach Ernst Middendorp said he was not satisfied, and he would ideally have liked to be sitting on six points.

“Chiefs are in a similar situation with four points after three games, but we have to prepare ourselves,” Middendorp said.

The mood at training yesterday was upbeat with the players laughing and joking about as they were put through their paces by coaches Fadlu Davids and Dan Haswell.

Middendorp said: “There is a special mood. It is not something unusual. It is like this in Europe when you play teams like Bayern Munich.”

In terms of injuries, Middendorp will be without Peter Petersen, Delron Buckley and Nhlanhla Vilakazi for the trip to Johannesburg, but said a decision on Ashley Hartog, who had resumed training, will be taken in the next three days.

He said he hoped to have Buckley and Petersen back by Wednesday next week when they take on Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Middendorp felt his team would be able to handle the bright lights of the FNB Stadium.

“We had a successful away record last season against teams like Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns. We have enough players with experience who are mature enough to handle it,” he said.

Despite Chiefs’ 3-1 humbling at the hands of SuperSport United in their last league game, Middendorp said they were still a good side, and one of “three or four” that would be challenging for honours at the end of the season.

The coach was unhappy about Mohammed Awal’s late return to camp after having been on international duty with the Ghanaian national team.

“It is not okay. We had a clear understanding when we released him after the University of Pretoria game that he will be back on Saturday and in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday at the latest,” Middendorp told The Witness.

“He came back on Tuesday, and he didn’t even play,” Middendorp said of Awal who was not included in the Black Stars’ squad for their trip to the Far East to take on Japan.

“It would have been perfect to have him train with us on Monday.”

Captain Michael Morton said the team relished the challenge of taking on the league champions, adding that Chiefs was a team they did well against over the last two years.

“The break has given us time to recharge our batteries. We’ll approach it [the game] the same way and prepare for it as any other game,” Morton said.

He said the way Chiefs play would be something they would have to counteract, adding going into the game against the experienced Buckley would mean other players have to step up to the plate.

“He’s been huge for us. He’s always been. We just need the other guys to step up and replace the leadership that we’ve lost.”

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