Struggling United feel the heat

2013-09-18 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Ernst Middendorp feels the heat going into their next league game against Mpumalanga Black Aces at Harry Gwala tonight.

The Team of Choice have been short of goals this season, but they’ll be glad to know that Mpumalanga Black Aces haven’t exactly had the walls of Jericho at the back and have conceded six goals.

While United have kept two clean sheets — at home — this season, Black Aces have conceded in all of their games. On the road, Clive Barker’s boys have seen four goals go in, but, unlike United, they have found the back of the net four times.

Winless at home, Black Aces’ only victory came in this province, and they will relish the opportunity to return to KZN.

Although they have just claimed one goal and four points in four games, United haven’t fared that badly at Harry Gwala this season. Out of a possible six points, they have dropped just two.

Missing players like Delron Buckley and Mohammed Yakubu in their last league game put them on the back foot as they were left short of attacking options.

But the two should be available tonight, and with the addition of Ashley Hartog, who played the entire 90 minutes against the champions on the weekend, Middendorp should feel confident.

“We are short on points at the moment and on the performance side. We have to expect more,” Middendorp told The Witness yesterday.

As United’s only goal this season has come from a set piece, Middendorp said an area they needed to work on was penetrating the opposition’s defence.

At this stage last season, United were flying, aided by the goals of Zimbabwean Cuthbert Malajila, who has since been snapped up by Mamelodi Sundowns.

Middendorp said: “What I have been saying is that we must forget about Cuthbert. What is important is to get a combination between Buckley and a good striker.”

He said Nhlanhla Vilakazi could also fill the role of midfield provider, but he is only expected to start playing in the middle of October as he recovers from injury.

United could have Buckley and Yakubu back for the game. Both players missed the trip to Johannesburg, and their availability could be an added bonus to the team.

“Yakubu looks good, and we still have to look at Buckley and make a decision. He is about 75% at the moment,” the coach said.

He also expressed his happiness at Hartog lasting the 90 minutes against Chiefs.

“I’m very pleased he played for the 90 minutes, and how he was able to deal with the next day.”

The most important thing for United would be to get three points from the game.

“We feel the heat, and we know we have to do something and get a result,” he said.

The game will kick off at 7.30 pm and will not be televised.


1 Shu-Aib Walters, 3 Mario Booysen, 4 Mohammed Awal, 15 Ruben Cloete, 16 Rheece Evans, 18 Ryan de Jongh, 27 Thamsanqa Mkhize, 6 Michael Morton, 19 Terrance Mandaza, 20 Thabang Matuka, 9 Mohammed Yakubu

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