United must step up to beat Arrows

2013-04-16 00:00

MARITZBURG United will need to put the disappointment of Sunday’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final defeat behind them when they host Golden Arrows in a crucial PSL clash at Harry Gwala stadium tomorrow night.

There are just six rounds of league fixtures remaining, and United are slap bang in the middle of a dog fight that includes eight teams trying to secure one of five places remaining in the top eight of the league.

Should United manage to achieve this, it would be the first time in their history that they have finished in the top half of the table.

With only Ajax Cape Town remaining for United at Harry Gwala this season, tomorrow’s match becomes a must-win against an Arrows side that has failed to impress all season long and currently find themselves in 12th position.

United have Rheece Evans, who was sent off against SuperSport, suspended for the clash, while there are no injury reports that have ruled anybody out of contention.

One area of concern for coach Ernst Middendorp will be the services of centre back Mohamed Awal, who was substituted at half time against SuperSport. The Ghanaian had been recovering from a hamstring strain in the build-up to that match, but Middendorp maintains that it was Awal’s performance that cost him his place on the field and not his injury. One of United’s standout players this season, it seems logical that a fit and in form Awal substantially enhances his side’s chances of victory tomorrow.

Another area Middendorp must pay attention to is the role of Delron Buckley in his side.

After a great start to the season, Buckley has been far from his best for some time now and there is a school of thought among United fans and critics that suggests that it may be time for the former Bafana Bafana star to have a rest.

Buckley has missed just one league match this season through suspension on a day that United shocked Moroka Swallows 3-1 away from home.

There is no doubting Buckley’s tactical awareness, experience and ability, but his static performances of late in the playmaker role has raised questions about his physical condition and his ability to be effective for 90 minutes.

With the likes of Bandile Shandu and Philani Zulu rearing to go after showing promising signs this season in an advanced central midfield role, Buckley’s performance will be watched closely should he get the nod for tomorrow night as is expected.

Whoever he chooses to play tomorrow night, Middendorp will be desperate for a win. The match kicks off at 7.30 pm and will not be televised.

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