United aim for top-eight PSL finish

2010-01-13 00:00

MARITZBURG United will have star Ghanaian midfielder John Arwuah back from long-term injury when they resume their Premier Soccer League campaign against Jomo Cosmos at the Rand Stadium on February 3.

With just six matches left for most of the teams in the PSL, after its resumption from its break over the current African Nations Cup the league will be concluded by the end of February to give Bafana Bafana four months to prepare for the 2010 World Cup.

United are in 11th place going into the final straight, and with an eight-point gap over second-last Mpumalanga Black Aces are relatively unencumbered by relegation battle pressures. This is an ideal opportunity for the Team of Choice to push for their first-ever top-eight finish.

The return of Arwuah, whose presence has been heavily missed all season after picking up a ligament injury in pre-season training, could really spur United in this aim. The tough as teak defensive midfielder was United’s player of the season for 2008/09 and will significantly boost central midfield.

“John has been back in full training for going on a week now,” United CEO Afzal Khan said yesterday. “We are expecting to have him ready for our first game back against Cosmos.”

Khan said United coach Ernst Middendorp has put together a four-week programme to have his team in top condition for their last six matches. After last-placed Cosmos, United face Golden Arrows (home), Aces (away), Orlando Pirates (home), Free State Stars (away) and finally Santos at home on February 28.

“The coach has the players on an intense four-week programme to enhance speed, endurance, power and overall fitness and has requested three friendly games,” Khan said.

“We are lining up games against Nathi Lions, AmaZulu and potentially a Chinese Premier League side.”

Apart from Arwuah, the PMB team have Byron Hendricks back from the injury that kept him out of the side’s last two games, while Peter Petersen and Brice Aka are recovering. Defender Bageta Dikilu will miss the Cosmos game with a pulled muscle.

Khan said United’s aim is to try and finish as high as possible.

“At the start of the season our objective was to finish higher than 10th, but at this stage the top eight is within sight and we are going to give it a bash.”

United have released goalkeeper Brenden Wardle as surplus to requirements.

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