Morton ‘here to work hard’

2011-07-15 00:00

MARITZBURG United unveiled their newest acquisition, defensive midfielder Michael Morton, at the team’s training ground in Ohrtmann Road yesterday.

Morton joins United on a two-year contract in a swap deal that has seen Rudolf Bester move to Orlando Pirates. Morton, who arrived in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, has spent the last two seasons in the PSL on loan at Wits. He is being touted as a possible replacement for holding midfielder John Arwuah, who left United at the end of last season to join SuperSport United.

“He’s a young player who is energetic and he is an ideal replacement for John [Arwuah],” said Team of Choice manager Ian Palmer. “Obviously we need somebody to replace Rudolf, but the guys we have here have the potential to be just as good, if not better than him.”

Morton (22) has never played in Pietermaritzburg before — he missed the last two trips with Wits — and says he has heard good things about the crowds at Harry Gwala.

“I know that it is a city that loves its football; you can see just by walking along the streets that the fans are very knowledgeable,” said Morton. “I’ve spoken to a few people and they’ve said that the stadium on match days is one of the better ones to be at, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Asked whether or not he saw himself as a competent replacement for Arwuah, Morton was cautious in his response. “There are a lot of good midfielders at this club, so I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said. “I’m here to work hard and I am confident that I can do well.”

Morton, who can also play as a right sided defender, was identified as a talent by Palmer when the coach was an assistant to Ruud Krol at Orlando Pirates three seasons ago.

“I’ve worked with him in the youth structures before and I know how he plays,” said Palmer.

If the drafted PSL fixtures for the upcoming season remain unchanged, Morton will face two of his former clubs within the first three rounds of fixtures. United are expected to play Wits at home on August 13 before travelling to Cape Town for a date with Ajax on August 17. They then return to face Pirates at “home” a week later.

With Diyo Sibisi and Morton, the two biggest winter signings for United so far, Palmer has not ruled out further activity in the transfer market.

“There will be activity,” he said. “We are looking at one or two players from other PSL clubs as well as those coming out of the youth structures.”

Sibisi was signed from Ajax Cape Town last week after he had spent last season on loan at Maritzburg.

“I am happy to have made the move; it is what I wanted,” said the striker, who was vital in United’s PSL survival last season. “I think that it is a move that the fans wanted too.”

The issue of where United will play their home matches against Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and one other top eight side is still not resolved. Club chairperson Farouk Kadodia last week confirmed that he had been approached by officials at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in East London, who are offering an appearance fee of R1 million for every match the club plays at the venue.

“We are a side without a sponsor and we are trying to build a team here for the future,” said Palmer, which may yet mean that United fans will miss the opportunity to see the two biggest sides in South African football do battle with the Team of Choice at Harry Gwala.

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