Robyn Johannes eager to impress after signing with Team of Choice

2013-07-11 00:00

MARITZBURG United yesterday sealed the services of former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates central defender Robyn Johannes.

For the 26-year-old Johannes, who has three Bafana Bafana caps to his name, the move serves as a new start after his time at Orlando Pirates was hampered by injury.

He was, however, confident that his injury problems were a thing of the past, and told The Witness he will work hard to secure a place in the starting lining line-up going into the new season.

“I haven’t had a problem with injuries in the past five months, and I’m grateful to the club and the coach for this opportunity they have given me,” Johannes said at Harry Gwala following their practice game against their noisy neighbours Maritzburg City yesterday.

The move also reunited him with Ernst Middendorp, under whom he played while on loan at Durban’s Golden Arrows two seasons ago.

“He’s proved that he is a great coach, and I’m looking forward to playing under him. I know I’m going to learn a lot, which will help me improve my game,” he said.

Johannes was also confident that the club could improve on its 11th place league finish from last season.

“Maritzburg United proved last season that they are a good team … the club have always done well.

“But we can do better this season. We have a quality coach and team and we can push up. Everyone’s really rallying around each other and we’re a family club.”

The defender also said the welcome he received at the club was unlike the one he got when he joined Gauteng giants Downs and Bucs.

“At Sundowns and Pirates, they’re big clubs and big players and the welcome was different. Here, everyone’s already welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home. It’s good that it’s a family club,” he said.

He was also hopeful that Maritzburgers would take to him quickly as they got behind the team in their push for a top eight finish.

“I’ve seen how they support the club. I hope that they’ll also open their arms to me. It’s important that they come in their numbers to support and get behind the club.”

Asked if he would like to add to his three international caps, he said: “Every player dreams to be part of the national team. But for now that’s not my focus. I just want to play, stay injury-free and stay in the team.

“I don’t expect to walk straight into the team. I have to work hard, get fit and stay off the injury bed,” he said.

Club commercial manager Younus Kadodia said: “We are delighted to have signed a player of Robyn’s ablity and have the belief that he will challenge strongly for a starting position, which now gives us depth in the heart of our defence.”

Other than Johannes, the club have also added midfielders Ashley Hartog, Thokozani Sekotlong and Nhlanhla Vilakazi.

Kadodia said they were still looking for a replacement for Cuthbert Malajila — the club’s top goalscorer last season — who joined the big spending Brazilians.

The Team of Choice will play two practice games against Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday, and open their league campaign against Polokwane City towards the end of August.

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