United just as driven as Cosmos, says coach

2010-01-26 00:00

MARITZBURG United will be as motivated as last-placed Jomo Comos, the Team of Choice’s first opponents after the resumption of the Premier Soccer League at the Rand Stadium on Tuesday, February 2, says coach Ernst Middendorp.

Cosmos, in a desperate situation on just 19 points and with six games to go, are expected to come out fighting as the league heads towards its conclusion on March 6.

But Middendorp said yesterday that United, in 11th place on 27 points, have their own ambitions and will be equally fired up.

“Cosmos had a good run before the league went into recess in December and ended with a win against Santos. But we had a good run too, which we messed up a bit by not beating Moroka Swallows in our last game, which we should have won,” Middendorp said.

“Cosmos have their target, which is to avoid relegation, but we have our targets too, and there is no reason why we should not fight as much as they do.”

United have been back in training for three weeks and Middendorp is pleased with the team’s progress.

“We started a bit earlier than the other clubs on Wednesday, January 6, where most clubs started on the Sunday or Monday,” he said.

“For the coaches it was about finding the right balance between returning too early or too late. We made it three weeks, then two or three days for regeneration before starting our final preparations for the first game.”

Middendorp said it has worked out well for United that the club arranged to be in Johannesburg on the Monday before the Cosmos game, as the fixture was yesterday brought back by the PSL from Wednesday, February 3, to the Tuesday.

The coach said United first worked on the physical side after resuming training.

“And it looks good. The speed and co-ordination training went well. Next we moved on to the tactical, but not straight into an 11-man situation.

“We started in twos, with the strikers, the central defenders, the central midfielders, the left side and the right side working together. On overlapping, moving together — for the strikers, when to switch. In the last week it’s about arriving on the final selection for the first game.”

A huge boost for United is that last season’s player of the year, robust Ghanaian central midfielder John Arwuah, is back from the ligament injury that kept him out of the entire beginning of the 2009/10 campaign.

“Absolutely, it’s good to have him back — he looks very strong and will add value to the team,” Middendorp said.

The coach said Fadlu Davids has returned from his trial with Chinese Super League team Shaanxi Chamba and “looks in good shape”.

Defender Byrone Hendricks has a ligament injury that should keep him out of United’s first two games, and Bageta Dikilu is suspended against Cosmos.

After Cosmos, United return to the newly-renovated Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday, February 6, with their home league fixture against Lamontville Golden Arrows (8.15 pm).

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