United looking to hold steady

2009-08-29 00:00

MARITZBURG United will be out to continue their promising start to the Premier Soccer League season in their tough away encounter against Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg today.

United followed up their two opening draws — 1-1 at home to SuperSport United and by the same scoreline away to Wits University — with an impressive first victory of the season against AmaZulu at Woodburn Stadium on Wednesday night, scoring two unanswered goals.

It was the convincing nature of United’s first-half performance in particular, in which Fadlu Davids and Noah Chivuta struck for the home team, that suggested a new-look team steadily gaining in strength at the start of the season.

United were dominant, stamped their authority and created clearcut chances, though AmaZulu’s defence have conceded two goals in all but one of their games this season, and most of them quite softly.

Usuthu’s back three were again disorganised on Wednesday night, which to some extent made the home side look good, especially in the final third. But that should not detract from a snappy, enterprising passing performance by United — one that was a marked improvement from their opener against SuperSport.

It has mostly been United’s conditioning that has impressed so far, with players running at a high tempo for 90 minutes and looking fit and sharp.

Today the PMB team face a potentially far more difficult prospect of taking on Platinum Stars, who have put together a quality squad and brought in dynamic coach Steve Komphela, in their own back yard. Komphela was able to view United’s match against AmaZulu first-hand after Stars had drawn 1-1 against Lamontville Golden Arrows in Chatsworth on Wednesday afternoon.

“Stars are a good team — they’ve spent money and they have some fantastic players like O.J. Mabizela, Stanley Kgatla and Godfrey Sapula,” United coach Gordon Igesund said yesterday.

“But I’m not really looking at what they’ve got and more at building on what we’ve done so far this season.

“We’re not going there for a point — we need to attack them. Obviously, there are certain areas where you have to be tight and hold things back a little because it’s an away game.

“But it’s a nice big pitch and a beautiful field, so why shouldn’t we be able to match Stars and go for a win?”

Ex-Bafana Bafana captain Komphela has a host of riches to choose from in his midfield especially, including Dillon Sheppard, Kingpin Kgatla, Sapula, Tshepo Ramokala, Edward Williams and July Mahlangu. In central defence, Mabizela and big George Mofokeng could be a difficult partnership to break down, while striker Luis Renteria can be dangerous.

“They do have a strong midfield but I think our midfield can match any team’s,” Igesund said. “That’s talking in terms of work rate, and then of course, we’ve got clever players like Noah Chivuta and Vito Badiane, and Felix Obada’s a dangerous player. I’m happy we’ll be able to match Stars.”

An indication of the tight nature of Stars’ play this season is given in their results — a 0-0 draw away to Jomo Cosmos, 1-0 defeat at home to AmaZulu, then Wednesday’s goal-apiece draw against Arrows.

United have a full squad available with no injuries or suspensions and Igesund said he was toying with the idea of not changing his starting line-up, though would make a decision this morning.

The Team of Choice might tentatively push for a win this afternoon, though would also be more than pleased to return from Rustenburg with a draw and their unbeaten record intact.

Following Stars, United are away to Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium on September 12, host Bloemfontein Celtic at Woodburn on September 16 and travel to Ajax Cape Town on September 23.

Today: SuperSport United v Ajax Cape Town (Super Stadium, 3 pm – live on SABC1), Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 3 pm), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Lamontville Gol­den Arrows (Ackerville Stadium, 3 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Wits University v Bloemfontein Celtic (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm), Orlando Pirates v Jomo Cosmos (Orlando Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SABC1), Santos v Mamelodi Sundowns (Newlands, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport 4).


Tomorrow: AmaZulu v Kaizer Chiefs (Chatsworth Stadium, 3 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Free State Stars v Moroka Swallows (Goble Park, 3 pm – live on SABC1).

Stars are a good team — they’ve spent money and they have some fantastic players.

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