United face Bucs as tough schedule continues

2009-01-13 00:00

MARITZBURG United began their restart to the Premier Soccer League with a defeat and it doesn’t get any easier for the Pietermaritzburg team, who tonight take on Orlando Pirates at Johannesburg Stadium.

After returning from the break with a somewhat unfortunate 2-1 away loss against Moroka Swallows, United now face the Birds’ even more illustrious Soweto neighbours. Pirates will be looking to bounce back from their own defeat on their return to action,

1-0 against SuperSport United at Joburg Stadium on Saturday.

The potentially devastating Buccaneers have at times produced some of the best football seen this season, with even United coach Gordon Igesund professing himself a fan of Dutch coach Ruud Krol’s approach at Pirates. Bucs this week lost the services of Krol’s assistant — Ian Palmer, United’s head coach in their promotion-winning campaign last season — who has resigned.

Bucs have been bolstered by the return of two key players. Right-wing Dikgang Mabalane — who since a six-month stint helping save United from relegation in 2005/06 has been on the fringes of Bafana Bafana selection with Jomo Cosmos, and is now in some of the best form of his career at Pirates — returns from suspension. The Buccaneers also have galloping left-back Innocent Mdledle back from long-term injury.

For United the match is a continuation of their hellish current programme, with their next fixture against league leaders Ajax Cape Town at Woodburn Stadium on Saturday, followed by SuperSport United at home and Kaizer Chiefs away next week.

Apart from the red card to Brice Aka, which will see United’s key striker suspended for two games, there were positives to come out of the defeat to Birds.

Tony Tsabedze’s continued good form on the left wing was complemented by the addition of skilful new signing Fanyana Dhladhla on the right. Young goalkeeper Tashreeq Goldman responded well to being thrown in at the deep end for a gutsy debut.

Now United must start turning positives into points. Realistically, one cannot expect the team to canter through their tough programme in their next four games. But they do need to start picking up points somewhere. Most “smaller” teams in the PSL this season have managed unlikely wins over the big clubs, and United are capable of the same.

Or, as one Pietermaritzburg letter writer put it so succinctly elsewhere on these sports pages — United’s players need a “firecracker up their backsides”, and pretty soon too, if they are to avoid fighting a gritty relegation battle come the end of the season.

Also tonight Mamelodi Sundowns coach Henri Michel must decide whether to field Lerato Chabangu, who has signed a pre-contract to join SuperSport, against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Super Stadium.

Tonight: (all 7.30 pm) Orlando Pirates v Maritzburg United (Johannesburg Stadium – SSpt 4), Mamelodi Sundowns v Bloemfontein Celtic (Super Stadium – SSpt 3), Platinum Stars v AmaZulu Olen Park – SABC1)

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.