United look ahead after PSL survival

2009-05-10 00:00

SATURDAY’s PSL relegation nailbiter at Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale turned into a celebration for Maritzburg United, though for home team Thanda Royal Zulu there lies the treacherous path of the promotion/relegation play-offs after a 0-0 draw.

A good turnout of Maritzburg fans arrived for the potentially crucial game, where United might have needed a win or draw to steer clear of the play-offs. But with news filtering through from QwaQwa by half time that Free State Stars were 4-0 up against Bloemfontein Celtic, the result became inconsequential for the visitors, though still crucial for Thanda.

The Swedish-owned team still needed a win to leapfrog Celtic themselves, but even with United appearing to slack off significantly after the break, they could not produce the fight required for these sort of games.

Thanda will need a lot more application if they are to survive the play-offs against Carara Kicks — losers of the NFD final against Jomo Cosmos yesterday — and Inland and Coastal stream runners-up Mpumalanga Black Aces and FC Cape Town.

The stakes of Saturday’s game were always going to result in safety-first tactics and tetchy exchanges, as free-flowing football went out the window. Thanda’s Nkosinathi Nhleko hit the post after a mix-up between Bageta Dikilu and Elias Ngwepe in a rare chance of a scrappy 90 minutes.

Now that United are safe, their attention turns to next season. “We would like to thank all our supporters who travelled to Hammarsdale for our closing game,” United chairman Farouk Kadodia said last night.

With the coaching merry-go-round that started with the departure of Craig Rosslee from Ajax Cape Town and Mushin Ertugral from Kaizer Chiefs, even United coach Gordon Igesund’s future is uncertain, despite a good 12th-placed finish. Clubs suddenly left coachless might come knocking for the four-time league winner. “We will wait and see what happens in the next 10 days,” Kadodia said.

The United chairman said he felt the club might have achieved more, despite being newly-promoted.

“I firmly believe from the players that we assembled that this team should have been a strong top eight contender, and would have been had we been more consistent.”

Kadodia said the management and technical team will sit down this week to analyse the past season and map the way forward.

“It is important that we isolate the mistakes … and areas to improve on. Since January we had a new lease of life and you could see from the way the team was playing at Woodburn that there was something special there … But on the road it was a different story, and we must identify the reasons for that. Financially we have to look at how we can sustain the club … We are the only team in the PSL without a sponsor, which is a tremendous disadvantage.”

United must also begin retaining the bulk of a squad that has shown potential this season, including loan players such as Tony Tsabedze from SuperSport United, Fanyana Dhladhla, Elias Ngwepe (Sundowns) and Gary Goldstone (Celtic).

Saturday: Santos 0 SuperSport United 0, Wits University 2 Moroka Swallows 0, Bay United 0 Lamontville Golden Arrows 1, Orlando Pirates 3 Amazulu 1, Thanda Royal Zulu 0 Maritzburg United 0, Free State Stars 5 Bloemfontein Celtic 1, Mamelodi Sundows 0 Ajax Cape Town 2, Platinum Stars 0 Kaizer Chiefs 2

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