United look for modest gain from tonight's tie

2012-04-17 00:00

MARITZBURG United will aim to put their forgettable Nedbank Cup quarter-final from the weekend behind them when they take on Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs in a PSL encounter at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane tonight.

Coach Ernst Middendorp opted for an ultra-defensive approach in his side’s 2-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday by fielding no fewer than six defenders in a performance that screamed of a lack of confidence in his attacking players.

In Middendorp’s defence, however, the attacking trio of Kurt Lentjies, Prince Olomu and Felix Obada were unavailable for selection that day and United assistant coach Fadlu Davids says that their return tonight would give the Team of Choice impetus to attack.

“The players responded well to being asked to play defensively against Sundowns,” Davids told The Witness yesterday. “Up until they scored the goal the plan was working and they found it very difficult to break us down.”

Lentjies is expected to pass a late fitness test on his ankle and to be included in the starting lineup.

Chiefs will be looking for their first win under their new management team of Donald Khuse, Doctor Khumalo and Arthur Zwane after Vladimir Vermezovic was sacked last week.

Khuse and his colleagues didn’t get off to the best of starts at the weekend, bowing out of the Nedbank Cup thanks to a gritty Free State Stars performance.

“It is difficult to plan to play against Chiefs now that they have new management,” said Davids. “We don’t know how the players have reacted and are a little unsure what to expect.”

While United’s start-of-season ambitions to finish in the top half of the PSL table are still mathematically attainable, Davids conceded that moving away from the foot of the table was a more realistic goal.

“We know that we need to pick up points and get as close to the top half as we can,” he said. “We will go for the three points as we do in every game, but at the end of the day a point away to Chiefs is never a bad result.”

Middendorp will be forced to go into tonight’s match without midfield workhorse Michael Morton and fullback Rheece Evans. Evans picked up a red card against Sundowns and is out for two matches, while Morton reached his yellow card limit in that game for the second time this season.

The match kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be televised on SuperSport 4.

• sport@witness.co.za

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