Team of Choice release trio

2014-04-19 00:00

IT’S out with the old and in with the new, and Maritzburg United have released Delron Buckley (36), Dillon Sheppard (35) and Robyn Johannes (27) from the squad for the remainder of the season.

Buckley and Sheppard are out of contract at the end of June and the club has refused the option to extend Johannes’s stay at Harry Gwala Stadium.

With coach Steve Komphela looking to build a squad for next season, it was decided that the trio were surplus to requirements.

“Steve [Komphela] suggested that we have enough players to see out the rest of the season,” United chairperson Farouk Kadodia told Weekend Witness yesterday.

It is a move that makes sense, with Buckley and Sheppard not the players they once were, and Johannes firmly behind the Booysen brothers (Mario and David) and Mohamed Awal in the centre half pecking order. It is also a move that signifies the end of the Ernst Middendorp era as Komphela looks to stamp his own mark on the Team of Choice.

Buckley, in particular, was a massive Middendorp signing in June 2012 and the midfielder’s early form for United even caught the attention of national coach Gordon Igesund, who gave Buckley the last of his 73 Bafana caps later that year.

“Delron at the time brought a new lease of life to Middendorp’s team,” said Kadodia. “He came here with a lot of experience and he had played on a big stage, and that all contributed positively to the team. His contribution is appreciated.”

One man who seems to have done enough to avoid the chopping block is 32-year-old Dutchman Orlando Smeekes, whose form in the latter part of the season has been instrumental in steering United away from the relegation zone.

“We are currently in talks with Orlando and are looking at keeping him on for another year or two,” said Kadodia.

It was also confirmed yesterday that the PSL have no issue with United’s Nedbank Cup semi-final against Orlando Pirates being staged at Harry Gwala Stadium on May 3. “That is great news for us and for the city,” said Kadodia.

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