United need to down Stars

2008-11-14 00:00

IT would be hard to call Maritzburg United inconsistent this season. If anything they have been almost the model of consistency — first consistently good and then consistently bad.

But if there is a time to bounce back from their four-match streak of defeats, which followed a four-game unbeaten start, then it will be tomorrow in their Premier Soccer League match against Platinum Stars at Woodburn Stadium.

United coach Gordon Igesund has been talking a brave game despite his team’s alarming four-game losing run, conceding 12 goals and scoring one. The coach has maintained that his side have played good football going forward, but conceded goals from absolute howlers at the back.

Certainly, after their decent performance in losing 1-0 to on-form Lamontville Golden Arrows at Woodburn last weekend, but dominating most of the game, it was not expected that United would take another heavy beating in a 4-1 defeat to Wits University in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

This followed a 5-0 league thrashing by champions Supersport United prior to the Arrows game, which in turn came on the heels of a 2-0 reversal to Free State Stars in the Telkom Knockout.

In retrospect, though, perhaps the performance against Arrows was not as good as it seemed.

Are Arrows a good enough team that they can score early then absorb pressure for three-quarters of the game? If they can beat Ajax Cape Town 4-0, as they did in Umlazi on Wednesday, then surely yes.

United may have put pressure, but Arrows goalkeeper Helton Da Rocha only had to make one real save. Arrows knew United had taken a 5-0 thrashing in midweek, but probably resisted pushing too hard for a second at Woodburn because they also knew Maritzburg would be a tough team to play in their first match in front of their home fans.

On the other hand, United did have a legitimate goal disallowed that TV replays showed to be an appalling decision. And Arrows coach Manqoba Mngqithi did concede that his side were prevented from playing a counter-attacking game by the enormous pressure they were put under.

Still, one cannot help but feel more will be needed tomorrow. United are up against another top team – Stars are in seventh, and highly competitive under Argentinean ex-Mamelodi Sundowns coach Miguel Gamondi.

It will not be enough to say the home side performed well and played exciting, quick-passing football but lost to quality opposition. All PSL teams this season are competitive and possess quality – United simply need to start winning their home games again.

Most critically, the “schoolboy errors” in defence have to be eliminated. Igesund has said he will make changes in central defence and this might provide an early opportunity for new signing Simphiwe Mkhonza to make his debut.

United will be relieved that striker Fadlu Davids feels he might be back for the team’s next game away to Santos on Friday with a face mask. The PMB side scored six goals in four games before Davids’s injury, and have scored one in four since he broke his nose against Free State, and the striker might even be touch and go for today’s game.

Defender Gary Goldstone went off with a ligament injury at half time against Wits having just returned to the team, and is unavailable again.

For Stars, Stanley Kgatla and evergreen Godfrey Sapula are the driving force in the engine room, with wing Tshepo Ramokala and striker Simba Marumo the goal-scoring dangermen.

Kickoff: 3.30 pm

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