United cannot afford to be complacent

2013-08-27 00:00

MARITZBURG United will have to ensure complacency doesn’t creep into their game when they take on Free State Stars in the league tomorrow.

The Team of Choice are backing themselves to leave Phuthaditjhaba with all three points, but Ea Lla Koto will want to bounce back from their opening round defeat. With new striker Mohammed Yakubu getting on the scoresheet on his debut for the club, United coach Ernst Middendorp will hope for much of the same.

A change from last season, Middendorp began the last game with skipper Michael Morton and Ryan de Jongh in midfield with Delron Buckley coming on in the second half.

Last season, the partnership of Buckley and Morton in midfield was credited with United’s good start to the season.

With the exception of Heinrich Isaacks, every player who played in Maritzburg United’s opening day win over City will be available for their clash against Stars.

Middendorp will be relieved that experienced former Bafana Bafana international Buckley will also be available for their first away clash of the season.

“He is in the 18 that we will travel with. We will use him like we used him against Polokwane City in our first game,” Middendorp told The Witness yesterday.

“He is not 100%, but with the experience that he has, he will give us something extra,” Middendorp said about Buckley.

The coach added that Ashley Hartog, Nhlanhla Vilakazi and Heinrich Isaacks were unavailable for selection, although they recently trained with the squad.

Isaacks’s absence from the team might pave the way for Orlando Smeekes to start.

The coach also has something of a selection headache at the back as he decides who to select between new boy Robyn Johannes, Mohammad Awal and Mario Booysen.

Awal and Booysen started the last game, and were the backbone of the team last season. After telling The Witness last week that all three players needed to play to be at their best, one cannot speculate on who will get the nod.

Ea Lla Koto were thrashed 4-1 by Supersport United in their first game. However, Team of Choice captain Michael Morton felt that result wouldn’t have a bearing on the game.

“The game is going to be tougher because they’re a proud side with a good coach. If anything, they’ll bounce back and they’ll come out firing,” said the captain.

He added that all the players in the side were looking good, and that they were lucky to have some of their injured guys back.

After one game played, United sit in fifth in the league after their 1-0 win over Polokwane City, while Free State Stars are currently propping up the Premier League table.

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