Tension in United’s camp

2012-04-13 00:00

WITH Maritzburg United continuing their preparation for tomorrow’s unenviable Nedbank Cup quarter-final tie with Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville, coach Ernst Middendorp has said the mood in the squad is one of “tension” ahead of the tie.

United have lost on all seven occasions that they have met the Brazilians away in all competitions since the 2005/2006 season, and while Middendorp attributes the current mood in the squad to United’s languishing in the PSL, he is not overly concerned with what is a tough assignment for his troops.

“There is tension in the side, but hopefully we can transfer that into responsibility on the field,” he said.

“If you asked me if it would be easier to play Jomo Cosmos, well I don’t think it would, all of the matches are difficult now.”

Middendorp labeled the depth in the Sundowns squad as one of the major reasons that they have been so successful this season.

“If you look at the squad, there are 30 or 35 players of quality that they can call on,” he said. “That is why it will be either them or Pirates that win the league.”

Middendorp welcomes back midfielder Kurt Lentjies from suspension, but will be forced to play without Nigerian winger Felix Obada, who is suspended after reaching his yellow card limit during Sunday’s PSL draw with Santos in Pietermaritzburg.

With striker Diyo Sibisi also having picked up a knock in that game, but likely to have recovered in time for tomorrow, Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila looks set to continue as United’s designated goal scorer. It is a role that has not worked out too well for the 26-year-old since his arrival at the club at the beginning of the year.

Malajila is yet to score a PSL goal in eight PSL appearances, though he was responsible for United’s progression to this stage of the competition after scoring the only goal of the game in the last 16 tie away to Golden Arrows.

“He [is] a good player, but he has not been successful because he has not been scoring goals,” said Middendorp.

“He could have scored two against Santos, but we know that he was short on game time when he arrived with us. I am not unhappy with him; he is a good player for the future.”

Middendorp refused to place any priorities on either the league or the cup for his side, saying that they would instead take it game by game.

“We will take every game with the same seriousness,” he said.

“We know how it works; you build up your confidence that you take through to your next match.”

With a host of players a yellow card away from suspension, Middendorp added that he would not take this into consideration when choosing his side for tomorrow.

“We do have a problem with the amount of players on yellow cards, but where do you start?” he said.

“You could bring a player on for the last five minutes of the match and he could get a yellow, so it is not really a consideration for us.”

United have a busy week ahead of them.

After tomorrow’s Nedbank Cup duty, the Team of Choice take on Kaizer Chiefs in a PSL encounter on Tuesday before travelling to Port Elizabeth where they will take on Sundowns again, this time in a league clash.

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

• sport@witness.co.za

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