Swazi ‘assassin’ key for Utd

2009-03-12 00:00

OFF the field Tony Tsabedze is about as quiet and unassuming as they come; on it, he’s a deadly assassin, a bagfull of pace and tricks and skill and attacking verve that has been crucial in Maritzburg United’s effort to move away from the Premier Soccer League relegation zone.

The little Swazi left wing, who has been one of United’s most consistent performers this season, says the team can go a long way to achieving that aim if they can beat Santos at Woodburn Stadium tomorrow (3.30 pm).

Tsabedze (24) says he has enjoyed his season at United on loan from SuperSport United although the team is struggling. The winger has had almost constant game time, while at SuperSport he was used mostly as a substitute for Daine Klate.

“It has been a good experience because I have never been in this sort of situation,” Tsabedze said yesterday. “From last season when I was part of the team that won the league to this sort of experience has been quite a change.

“It’s a whole different mentality you face. When you’re winning the league you are always going out thinking, ‘Let’s win another game’, but when you are fighting relegation you are only hoping to win.

“But I think we have turned things around and I just hope this team moves away from relegation now.”

Tsabedze said the pressures are not that different at the top and the bottom of the table.

“It is the same sort of pressure, although fighting relegation is not really the sort of pressure you want to be under. But I don’t think that we deserve to be as low down as we are.

“The team has not really been playing badly, and we have got quality players. It’s just that sometimes we have lost because of silly errors like giving away the ball. Overall, I think the team has played mostly good football.”

Prior to beating Thanda Royal Zulu 3-2 in the Nedbank Cup on Sunday, United were 2-1 away winners over Bay United in Port Elizabeth in the league. That result saw the PMB team open a four-point cushion over second-last Bloemfontein Celtic and five over Bay, who have played two more games.

“That was a big one,” said Tsabedze.

“But we have to remember that we have still got a long way to go. If we can win our next two games [against Santos and Wits] I think this team will be almost safe.

“The four points over Celtic have relieved the pressure and given us confidence. Now we just have to work hard at keeping that gap. If we lose against Santos and Celtic win, then it is back to just one point. If we win, the gap could become wider and we can put the teams below us under even more pressure.”

Santos are a tough team to beat in the Cape, but are known as poor travellers, and United will see this as a crucial game to get three points from.

“When we played Santos away in the first round, it was a close game,” Tsabedze said. “The ref allowed an indirect free-kick to go straight in and we missed a penalty, and I also missed a goal.

So I think we have a good chance.”

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