There is now a sense of fluidity about United

2014-03-13 00:00

THERE is much to be excited about at Maritzburg United following the side’s crucial 3-2 win over Free State Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium on Tuesday night.

Since Steve Komphela took over as coach at the start of the year, the Team of Choice have scored 10 league goals in five matches compared to the 12 they scored in the 15 matches before then.

There is a sense of fluidity about United these days while passion, commitment and determination have been common features in every match since Komphela arrived. Dangerous on the counter attack and rigid in defence, United’s 4-2-3-1 formation has sought to use pace on the flanks through the likes of Bongolethu Jayiya, Orlando Smeekes and Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi. All of a sudden there appear to be match-winners all over the park, and when one adds the names of Kurt Lentjies and Thokozani Sekotlong to the above-mentioned trio, it becomes difficult to see United worrying about relegation again this season.

But the hero on Tuesday night was 23-year-old Rheece Evans, who scored United’s first two goals inside 21 minutes playing at right back. His first was a blasted volley on his weaker left foot, while his second saw him glide through the air to beat the Stars defence as he headed his side towards an invaluable win.

“The guy [Evans] has a touch of class, he is very deceptive,” Komphela told The Witness in the Harry Gwala tunnel after the match. “I have to make a confession that when I was outside Maritzburg I used to look at Rheece and think that he was not quick, and I would identify him as a weak link. I was mistaken. Get closer to him and work with him, and then you will see.”

But United’s performance was about more than Evans. It seems as though fans are getting louder each week at Harry Gwala, and the Team of Choice have now won three and drawn one of their four home matches [one win was a Nedbank Cup fixture] under Komphela.

“Everybody loves a winner,” Komphela said of the resurgent PMB crowds. “But the boys in the dressing room are the ones doing it. They are the ones sending a message. I am just a spokesperson.”

It was the first time ever — after 13 attempts — that United have beaten Stars in a league encounter, and Komphela acknowledged that positivity had been the order of the day in the buildup to the match.

“There is always a first time, and that is what we were saying in the dressing room,” the former Stars boss said. “If you go into a situation with negative thoughts at the back of your mind, then you will never come through. We went into this match focusing on the present and the future, not the past.”

On triumphing over his former club, Komphela was expectedly humble.

“I didn’t really celebrate because I did not come here seeking vengeance,” he said. “They [Stars] were my bread and butter for a long time and I wish them everything of the best.”

United return to Harry Gwala tomorrow night where a KZN derby against AmaZulu awaits. It is the third in a run of four consecutive home fixtures for the Team of Choice, and Komphela remains obsessed with moving his side up the PSL table towards the top half.

“They [AmaZulu] are a good side that has to be respected,” he said. “We would love to be where they are [7th], but we cannot sit back and wish. We have to work hard — crawl and then walk — to get to where they are.”

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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