Nothing less than a win will satisfy

2010-12-17 00:00

WITH five matches left to the halfway stage Maritzburg United are sure to want to go on a big push to improve their league position, and nothing less than a win will satisfy the club in tonight’s Premier Soccer League game against Free State Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Encouragingly for United, coach Ernst Middendorp returns to the touchline having served his two-match suspension in his team’s last two games, defeats to Orlando Pirates (2-1 at home) and Vasco Da Gama (3-2 away).

Winger Felix Obada is also back from suspension. Both player and coach were red-carded in United’s 3-0 Telkom Knockout semi-final defeat against Orlando Pirates, a controversial match that appears to have shaken United’s confidence.

Middendorp will aim to provide a stabilising influence on the side of the field as Maritzburg attempt to get their season back on track.

The United management have expressed to their coach that they expect an improvement in results, though they stopped just short of delivering a clear ultimatum.

However, chairman Farouk Kadodia did say he believes United need at least 15 points by the halfway stage to stand a chance of mounting a challenge for a top eight place.

To achieve that target United, who have just seven points from 10 games, need eight more points from their next five matches.

Their home game tonight against Steve Komphela’s 11th-placed Stars, who are fresh off a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in Johannesburg, and at home to Mpumalanga Black Aces on January 7 have become almost must-win games.

Maritzburg’s other three games from their next five are against Wits University away on December 22, Mamelodi Sundowns in Pretoria on January 15 and Ajax Cape Town at home on January 19.

Stars have shown signs of a revival since the return of former Bafana Bafana captain Komphela. In a recent match against AmaZulu in KwaMashu, Komphela employed a 3-6-1 formation that snuffed the game out in midfield.

But United have an array of exciting attackers who, frustratingly, are still to all reach their potential this season. It is to forwards such as Rudolf Bester, Kurt Lentjies and Musa Nyatama that the job will fall of breaking Stars down should the visitors employ defensive tactics.

United are without key suspended defensive midfielder John Arwuah and striker Fadlu Davids, while midfielder Kurt Lentjies returns. Right-back Peter Petersen has an injury.

Striker Diyo Sibisi is also back from suspension, and United would be pleased if the big forward could score a goal or two against the team where he made his name.

Tonight: Ajax Cape Town v Mamelodi Sundowns (Athlone Stadium, 8 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Maritzburg United v Free State Stars (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8 pm)

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