United must now fan the flames

2011-01-22 00:00

AFTER finding the fire in their bellies with a stunning victory in midweek, the question now is if Maritzburg United can continue to fan the flames in their Premier Soccer League fixture against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Chatsworth Stadium this afternoon.

For anyone close to the team, Wednesday night’s 3-0 destruction of Ajax Cape Town at Harry Gwala Stadium would not have come as a complete shock.

From the beginning of the season Maritzburg have had the look on paper of a team that should challenge for a top eight place. Frustratingly their form has been patchy, while poor finishing has also played a role.

Even in their good performances, there has always been a feeling a talented line-up still have plenty more to offer, should they just click.

Unfortunately for high-riding Ajax, who appeared to allow inexperience to influence their overconfidence levels, the Capetonians were at the receiving end when United finally did find their groove.

Now the PMB team will want to establish a greater consistency, which they have already threatened to achieve — their win against Ajax was Maritzburg’s third in four games.

Performances such as the one against Ajax, where United could have won by six goals, don’t come every day.

But United discovered a winning formula that they will aim to try and repeat as often as possible as the beginning of the second half of the season commences.

Measured aggression, commitment and concentration for 90 minutes, and swift attacking by United’s multi-talented forward line took Ajax completely by surprise.

Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp said in December that his side would continue with their attacking approach that just was not quite yielding results, and Wednesday’s victory appears to have been a vindication of that.

“I felt our performance in the first half against Free State Stars [a 2-0 home defeat] was even better,” the coach said yesterday.

“But, yes, we were very focused and concentrated. I have said all along that the team has potential. There is a long way to go in the league season and we still have our targets, and the ability to achieve them.”

New German signing Christian Alder, who made a solid debut against Ajax, is likely to be partnered in central defence by Senegalese Mor Diouf this afternoon, who returns from suspension.

“He [Alder] only trained with us five or six times having come back from a ligament injury and to come straight from absolute cold in Germany to heat here, I think he performed very well,” Middendorp said.

“His shouting instructions and advice are just what we needed at the back. I really thought this player could do the job we needed.”

Middendorp utilised attacking midfielder Kurt Lentjies in defensive midfield against Ajax, and the offensive line-up paid off for the coach.

Lentjies suffered a dislocated shoulder before half time, but still managed to complete the game, and is expected to start against Arrows despite still suffering some pain.

Arrows have returned from the Christmas break in inconsistent form. A 2-1 victory over AmaZulu has been sandwiched by a 3-1 away defeat to Santos and the midweek 2-0 loss against Orlando Pirates in Chatsworth.

Serbian coach Goran Filipovic’s side, though, remain a combination filled with class and skill.

Siyabonga Nkosi has pulled the strings for the Umlazi team at playmaker and is set for a tough clash with United’s Ghanaian defensive midfielder John Arwuah.

Collins Mbesuma’s two goals against AmaZulu suggest the Zimbabwean might still have what it takes to be a prolific striker. Bryce Moon, converted back to the right wing from full-back at his new club, has been struggling to overcome an ankle injury.

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows v Maritzburg United (Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Platinum Stars v Ajax Cape Town (Moruleng Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), Vasco Da Gama v Free State Stars (Phillipi Stadium, 3.30 pm), Orlando Pirates v Wits University (Orlando Stadium, 8.15 pm), Santos v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Athlone Stadium, 8.15 pm), SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport 4 and SABC1)

Tomorrow: Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Moroka Swallows v AmaZulu (Dobsonville Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1)

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