Next six games ‘winnable’for United after loss to Chiefs

2011-01-31 00:00

IT might have been a third straight away loss conceding three goals, but Maritzburg United will take encouragement from a 3-1 Premier Soccer League defeat to Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday night where the scoreline flattered Amakhosi.

United, too, will be licking their lips at a programme until the end of the season that sees the PMB team lined up for 10 “winnable” matches out of 13, though coach Ernst Middendorp warned yesterday against complacency in these supposedly easier fixtures.

Middendorp said he was satisfied on Saturday night with an improved away performance by United from their last two matches on the road, 3-0 defeats against Lamontville Golden Arrows and Mamelodi Sundowns.

The Team of Choice missed a penalty and had a goal debatably disallowed for offside (both by Rudolf Bester), while Diyo Sibisi’s miscued attempt to control the ball struck the post, all in the first half.

There were other chances for the PMB team too, notably to Bester, Gert Schalkwyk and Fadlu Davids.

Of some concern though was a central defence that remains porous. Chiefs, not in their best form, were able to play a waiting game and impressively took the chances that came their way, with two goals to midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala (eighth and 76th) and one to defender Valery Nahayo (58th).

United’s goal was off the chest of Davids (70th) for the struggling striker’s first of the season.

“What we had against Chiefs, especially in comparison to against Sundowns and Arrows, was a good movement forward,” Middendorp said.

“If you miss a penalty against Chiefs, and other opportunities too, then you might struggle.

“But it was important to see the progress. We showed more of the confidence to play closer in an away game to the way we know we can at home.”

After a tough programme for the first half of the campaign, United have a 13-match schedule until the end of the season that looks far more promising.

All United’s next six matches are winnable, though this will depend on improving the team’s woeful finishing and finding some form of consistency.

Maritzburg play AmaZulu at home on Wednesday, then Bloemfontein Celtic (home, Saturday), second-last Moroka Swallows (away), Platinum Stars (home), SuperSport United (away) and Santos (home).

After a tough fixture against Orlando Pirates in Johannesburg on March 2, the PMB team have four “easier” games — Vasco Da Gama (H), Free State Stars (A), Wits University (H) and Mpumalanga Black Aces (A) — before two difficult final matches at home to Sundowns and away against Ajax Cape Town.

“I think it’s most important not to start saying we can get so many wins from so many games,” Middendorp warned.

“We must respect each team and go into each match with the same approach, preparing for each side individually. No match is won before it has started.”

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