United look good for Chippa

2012-10-05 00:00

IN what is a largely unpredictable league, it is common knowledge that there are no certainties in the PSL.

And it is for precisely this reason that Maritzburg United will not be taking tonight’s assignment at newly promoted Chippa United lightly.

The Cape side have amassed just five points from their opening six fixtures, but their performances haven’t been those of a side struggling to come to terms with life in the country’s top flight. A gritty 2-0 loss away to leaders Kaizer Chiefs followed an impressive 2-1 win at home to Bloemfontein Celtic, and coach Roger Sikhakhane’s men have grabbed the attention of United coach Ernst Middendorp ahead of tonight’s tie.

“I actually think they are a solid team,” Middendorp told The Witness ahead of what he has labeled a “must win” game.

“They have brought in some good players and we will not be meeting players from the NFD. There is a lot of PSL experience in this side.”

Chippa will look at this match as an opportunity to get more points on the board in their attempt to move away from the bottom of the table, and Middendorp is expecting the Chilli Boys to approach the game very differently to the 5-3-2 Wits side that beat United 1-0 last Friday.

“They will want to attack us and move the ball forward. We have to counter that and come up with our own ways of unlocking their defence.”

There was good news yesterday when it was confirmed that the trio of Mthokozisi Yende, Mohamed Awal and Orlando Smeekes were all on the plane to Cape Town after spending the week recovering from their respective injuries and, in the case of Smeekes, illness.

But the club could not confirm yesterday how much part, if any, the three would play in the fixture and it seems that a late call will be made on their match day fitness.

Middendorp has been relatively consistent with his team selection this campaign, with the exception of his second holding midfielder.

David Booysen, Ryan de Jongh and Byrone Hendricks have all partnered Michael Morton at some stage during the opening six fixtures and it seems that the coach is favouring Hendricks ahead of tonight’s clash.

“He has been fantastic there and it is really encouraging,” said Middendorp of Hendricks, a natural centre back.

Middendorp added that he had instructed Morton to conserve energy throughout tonight’s match — something which might prove difficult for the 23-year-old. Morton’s game is based on breaking up play and going after every challenge and his boundless energy and commitment has won over fans at Harry Gwala.

But with Cuthbert Malajila still United’s number one up front, Middendorp will take heart that there is always the possibility of goals and the coach will also be looking for a positive reaction to Delron Buckley’s recall to the Bafana Bafana squad.

United are undefeated away from home in three matches this season and if they are to consolidate their place among the league’s top half, these are the games where they will need to collect maximum points.

The match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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