United aim to get something from troubled Sundowns

2008-12-16 00:00

ORDINARILY trips to the Super Stadium to play Mamelodi Sundowns are a feared prospect, but Maritzburg United will feel they just might get something out of tonight’s PSL match against the Brazilians in Atteridgeville.

Downs have lost their last two games at the Super Stadium, 2-0 to Platinum Stars and 1-0 against Moroka Swallows. And the Brazilians are reeling from a time of upheaval since Frenchman Henri Michel replaced Trott Moloto as head coach.

Michel’s record reads dismally – one win, three draws and two lost. When one examines the goings-on at Sundowns, however, perhaps it is not so surprising.

Former Bafana coach Moloto, originally led to believe he would work hand in hand with Michel, has been demoted to a scout, while Harris Chueu has been removed as team manager. Michel has brought in his own assistant in Moroccan Mohamed Boujarari.

Moloto and Chueu are still kicking their heels around the Sundowns offices. Throw in Ted Dumitru as technical director and the well-worn saying about too many cooks must provide the answer for Downs’ lack of form and plunge to 11th place.

For United coach Gordon Igesund, this disarray provides a double-edged sword as he will look to exploit Downs’ confusion, but he also admits to the Pretoria team’s star quality and says he is wary of a backlash.

“With all the confusion at Sundowns we don’t know exactly whom Michel will play.

“He doesn’t seem to have settled on his line-up, so we’ve concentrated on preparing ourselves. Once I’ve seen their line-up I can adapt, because I know their players,” said Igesund, who coached Sundowns to the 2006/07 league title.

United have two matches until the Christmas break – they host Thanda Royal Zulu in their final fixture on Sunday – and would like to get at least four points from those, though six would leave the PMB team on a healthy 19 points from 13 games.

Following a five-game winless slump, United resorted to pragmatic football in a 2-1 home win against Bay United and 1-1 draw away to Free State Stars with 10 men. Against a team under pressure, Igesund hinted his side might opt for something more attacking.

“We need to put Downs on the back foot from the start. We had to dig deep in our last two games, and it might not have been pretty. But the guys have been knocking the ball around in training again.”

United have defensive midfielder John Arwuah back from injury. Central defender Siphiwe Mkhonza is suspended and United will have to do a patch-up job at left-back, where Elias Ngwepe is bound in his contract from playing against his former team, and natural replacement Gary Goldstone remains injured.

Sundowns have Dario Monteiro back from injury and Siboniso Gaxa from suspension. Katlego Mphela and Robyn Johannes are suspended.

The match, starting at 7.30 pm, will be televised live on Supersport 3.

Tonight: Thanda Royal Zulu vs Moroka Swallows (Mpumalanga Stadium, 3.30 pm), Free State Stars vs Kaizer Chiefs (Charles Mopeli Stadium, 3.30 pm), Platinum Stars vs Ajax Cape Town (Mafikeng Stadium, 3.30 pm), Mamelodi Sundowns vs Maritzburg United (Super Stadium, 7.30 pm - SSpt 3), Santos vs AmaZulu (Athlone Stadium, 7.30 pm), Bay United vs SuperSport United (EPRU Stadium, 7.30 pm), Orlando Pirates vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Johannesburg Stadium , 7.30 pm - SSpt 4), Wits University vs Lamontville Golden Arrows (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm)

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