United looking for a boost

2009-11-25 00:00

WHILE Maritzburg United’s 12th position may not appear all that bad, their points tally of 16 from 16 games is not altogether a healthy one.

It would be a big boost to the team and new coach Ernst Middendorp to pick up the coach’s first victory in United’s Premier Soccer League game against Wits University at Woodburn Stadium tonight.

The coach had a decent start with a fighting 3-2 defeat away to champions SuperSport United on the weekend. But Maritzburg will be aware that 16 points just past the halfway stage can lead to dangerous territory later in the season if the PMB team do not start winning a few games.

In Wits, the Team of Choice face a quality combination that has been well-drilled by coach Roger de Sa. But, after a good start, the Students have struggled for results and seven games without a victory have seen them slip to ninth.

This is the sort of game an in-form side would look to boss on their home ground.

Of course, United, like Wits, have not been at their best either, but tonight’s match-up could give some indication of what results Middendorp’s work with the team has yielded in a still very limited period.

“We’ve worked on the understanding between the players, especially the two central defenders and strikers — that they support each other, working as a unit and not this one in this direction and that one in another,” Middendorp said yesterday of the areas he has tried to improve since the SuperSport defeat.

“And also the communication in the defence between the central defence and left and right full-backs.”

United have central defender Bageta Dikilu back from suspension, though Middendorp said he is not likely to break up the partnership of Mor Diouf and Byron Hendricks.

“I was not really unhappy with the central defenders against SuperSport. OK, there was this thing of not always working together and for the first goal they let [Glen] Salmon get away from them. Otherwise I thought they played well.

“And of course there was also this situation between Dikilu and the club, where he disappeared for a while. Overall I don’t think I need to make a change in the defence.”

United CEO Afzal Khan said Dikilu had taken a day off after the team’s 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium, and not returned to camp for a few days.

“That was why he appeared before the club,” Khan said. “It was not a big issue, but we fined him a week’s salary because that was the length of time he was away.”

Wits might have been through a slump, but it seems only a matter of time before a team that includes dangerous players such as Brazilian midfielder Fabricio Rodrigues and prolific striker Calvin Kadi finds its form again, which could make them dangerous.

For United, Brice Aka has found his goal-scoring form.

In four days’ time United will make a small piece of history when they open Moses Mabhida Stadium along with AmaZulu.

This will help bring 2010 World Cup fever to Durban. In Pietermaritzburg this fever is only starting to find a grip.

But United have an exciting new coach and an underachieving team that seems hungry to prove its worth. What better way to begin raising the tempo on 2010 than for the fans of the side to start turning up in numbers for United games, and get that fever working for their home team.

Last night: Jomo Cosmos 0 Lamontville Golden Arrows one

Today: Ajax Cape Town v Free State Stars (Milpark, 3.30 pm), AmaZulu v Platinum Stars (Chatsworth Stadium, 7.30 pm), Bloemfontein Celtic v Santos (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, 7.30 pm — live on SuperSport 5), Moroka Swallows v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Dobsonville Stadium, 7.30 pm), Maritzburg United v Wits University (Woodburn Stadium, 7.30 pm), Kaizer Chiefs v SuperSport United (Loftus Stadium, 7.30 pm – live on SuperSport Blitz), Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates (Super Stadium, 7.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

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