Talk of revenge squashed as United look to focus on football in Pirates clash

2010-11-25 00:00

TALK of revenge and grudge matches has been squashed at Maritzburg United’s training sessions this week as the team prepares for a rematch against Orlando Pirates in tomorrow night’s Premier Soccer League match at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

An ill-tempered Telkom Knockout semi-final between the two teams at Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday has set the stage for a potentially explosive league game tomorrow, but United are eager to concentrate on the football this time round.

Maritzburg’s players, clearly angered at the decision to move Sunday’s game from Harry Gwala to Chatsworth, allowed their emotions to run away from them in the semi, resulting in a 3-0 defeat.

United also picked up two red cards, one to player Felix Obada and the other to coach Ernst Middendorp, who will have to watch from the stands in his team’s next two games, tomorrow night, and then against Vasco Da Gama in Bellville on December 10.

In Middendorp’s absence assistant Salie Adams will take charge of the team from the touchline.

The United assistant said he will have some form of communication open with the head coach in the stands.

Adams said the coaching staff have put an emphasis on United focusing on their own game — not revenge — in training sessions this week.

“That has been our focus for the last couple of days — getting the players to settle down, getting them to realise that things can be different if they forget what happened on Sunday, put their frustrations behind them and focus on Friday’s game,” Adams said.

“And if they do that, then they can start to continue where we left off before Sunday’s game with our six-match unbeaten run. We want the players to focus on what they did right during those games.

“Friday night is not a grudge or revenge game. It’s a league game and our players must be focused on trying to pick up points.”

Pirates are set to contest the December 4 Telkom final against arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium following tomorrow night’s league game, and the Buccaneers seem sure to rest players on cards.

“Look, it’s still Pirates and it’s still tough,” Adams said. “They might be resting players for the final, but with their squad, whatever team they put out will still be formidable.”

“And the players that the coach brings in could be hungry to prove themselves, especially because they want to make the squad for the final.”

Despite the 3-0 scoreline, Pirates players have said they had to fight for every inch of their Telkom victory against a fired-up Maritzburg.

“We did put them under pressure, which they responded to very well,” Adams said.

“It’s just that we made silly mistakes, but we know what those were and can correct them.”

A big positive for the PMB team was that midfielder Kurt Lentjies started against Bucs on Sunday and looked in good form following a long hamstring injury lay-off.

“Lentjies is fully recovered now,” Adams said. “We just took him off because he was getting a bit tired playing his first 70 minutes or so, and we didn’t want him to damage himself.

“He does bring a different dimension for us because he can slow the game down, he passes well and makes good runs off the ball. We can’t have all the same types of players, and he does add class.”

* Tickets are available at Computicket/Shoprite Checkers, SuperSave (Retief Street), Poobie Naidoo Sports, Bhamjees Fashion (both Boshoff Street), OK MiniMart (College Road) and the club offices.

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