United aim to continue winning ways

2015-03-14 00:00

THE dust has settled, the celebrations are over and it is back to business for Maritzburg United when they take on Platinum Stars at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg tomorrow.

United ended a nine-match winless streak when they shocked Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday — substitute Khumbulani Banda scoring with his first touch of the game in the 81st minute. It was a match that will be etched into the minds of the players and fans for a long time to come, but coach Steve Komphela was quick to point out afterwards that his side have “achieved nothing yet”.

Weekend Witness spoke to Banda ­yesterday and asked him about the crazy moment that saw him run onto the field and head in a Kurt Lentjies corner in one movement.

“It just happened,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to score, but it just happened really quickly. It is the best moment of my Maritzburg career so far.”

The Zimbabwean added that the Chiefs win would help them immensely as they approach their season run-in.

“We are just going to keep doing what we have been doing; what we did against Chiefs,” he said. “That win will give us a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum moving forward.”

A top-eight finish remains the aim for the Team of Choice, and those hopes received a much welcomed boost on Wednesday, but there are still eight matches left to play.

The big test tonight will be to see if Maritzburg have in fact turned the corner. One win, albeit against the log leaders and title favourites, is not enough to suggest that they have rediscovered the form they showed in the first 10 games of the season. It is a good start, but Stars are experiencing somewhat of a revival themselves and will be tough to beat on their own patch.

With tomorrow’s match kicking off at 3.30 pm, the heat is also likely to be a factor. The temperature is expected to be around 33 degrees Celcius come kickoff, but Komphela is not overly concerned by that. “It is hot in Maritzburg too,” he joked.

Komphela has generally rewarded form this season, and it is difficult to see him leaving anybody out tomorrow who started against Chiefs despite ­fixture congestion. His back four, in ­particular, was immense. Kwanda Mngonyama turned out a man-of-the-match display alongside the experienced and calm John Paintsil, while Abel Mabaso and Philani Zulu were equally as impressive as fullbacks. Zulu is known to the Maritzburg faithful as a central midfielder, and Komphela’s decision to employ him at left back raised a few eyebrows. But he has grabbed his chance with open arms and is improving each week, making it even more ­difficult for Thabang Matuka to get back into the coach’s good books.

Another impressive performance came from central midfielder Ryan de Jongh, who is ironically best known as a right back. His energy was crucial for United in terms of breaking up play and starting attacks quickly, and those are qualities that are likely to see him keep his place tomorrow despite the return of the suspended Nhlanhla Vilakazi.

Out wide, Mondli Cele will be ­favoured to maintain his position at right wing while Banda will be staking a claim to start ahead of Deolin Mekoa on the left.

The match kicks off at 3.30 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

This weekend’s PSL fixtures


3.30 pm – Black Aces v Moroka swallows, Polokwane City v Bloem Celtic

8.15 pm – SuperSport United v Tuks


3.30 pm – Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United.

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