United beef up strike force

2012-02-07 00:00

THE PSL is starting to wake up from its lengthy Christmas sleep. When Maritzburg United travel to Johannesburg for a fixture against Wits next Wednesday, it will be their first match in nearly two months.

While the extended break has been viewed as unnecessary and disruptive by many PSL managers and administrators, for United it has at least given the players some time to re-adjust to new coach Ernst Middendorp’s methods after the unexpected sacking of Ian Palmer.

One man who will be thankful for the preparation time ahead of the season’s resumption is the new signing, Zimbabwean striker Cuthbert Malajila. He joins United on a four-year deal from Dynamos in his homeland.

The 26-year-old provides United with another option up front, where Diyo Sibisi has found himself United’s only option for much of the season so far as Fadlu Davids has battled his way through injury.

“It is good to be here and good to work with the coach,” Malajila told The Witness.

“The coach has told us that we need to finish in the top eight and that is what we are working to do.”

Malajila said he expected a battle on his hands to secure a starting place ahead of Sibisi and Davids, who has returned from injury to take part in United’s warm-up matches over the last couple of weeks.

“It is going to be tough and there is a lot of talent, as there is at any club,” Malajila said. “I just have to keep scoring goals and show that I can handle the responsibility of a striker.”

Middendorp said he was happy to have Malajila in the squad and described him as “a hard worker who has very good touch in the box”.

Malajila was United’s only signing of the January transfer window.

Initially the club had wanted to buy cover on the left of midfield, but once Middendorp took over he spoke of his confidence in the current group of players and viewed it as unnecessary to venture into the transfer market.

Concerns over the depth in left midfield will have been heightened by the news that Calvin Sosibo has torn his Achilles tendon and will be out of action for about three months.

“Sosibo had surgery last week and his is a major loss for us,” chairperson Farouk Kadodia told The Witness yesterday.

United do have other options for that position in Morné Davids, Sheldon Lawrence and JB Ncubeni, but with Ncubeni preferred in a central position during the end of the first half of the season, it will be interesting to see how Middendorp sets up.

The only player to be shipped out of Harry Gwala during January was injury-plagued Nigerian striker Jacob Abobade, who came to a settlement with the club and had his contract terminated. United occupy 11th position in the PSL.

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