United remain upbeat

2014-10-03 00:00

MARITZBURG United remain up against it, but in an upbeat mood ahead of their Telkom Knockout first round date with Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in Soweto, tomorrow night.

The optimism in the camp remains despite the fact that the Team of Choice went down 1-0 to the PSL log leaders at the same venue nearly a week ago.

The trip to Chiefs is always accompanied by a certain understanding. United know that they are up against the best side in the country, that they are massive underdogs and that they will have to be at their absolute best to stand any chance of returning to the Midlands victorious.

Despite the fact that they were largely outplayed last Saturday, United still went down by the slimmest of margins. That will give them a sense of hope going into tomorrow, and with improvement in performance could come an improvement on the scoreboard.

The recipe should be simple: keep your shape, be rigid in defence, force Chiefs into playing low percentage balls and then look to hit them on the counter. It all sounds doable in theory, but anybody who has watched Stuart Baxter’s Amakhosi this season knows that they are onto something special.

Short, quick transitions and intelligent movement off the ball has been the recipe for success so far, as well as a dangerous set piece on both defence and attack. It equates to quality all over the pitch in ability as well as execution, and it will take something special for Maritzburg to stop what has been a rampant start to the season for the Glamour Boys.

One man capable of delivering that “something special” is versatile midfielder Kurt Lentjies. In his second stint at the club, the soft-footed Lentjies has been used largely as an impact player off the bench by coach Steve Komphela so far this season. But his ability cannot be questioned. A set-piece specialist with a serious cross and shot on him, Lentjies possesses the maturity, experience and tactical awareness to pose problems for any defence in the country. How he is used tomorrow will be up to Komphela, but he will surely play some part in the match.

“At the moment I am doing what the coach wants me to do. If he needs me to play off the bench then I must be happy to do that,” Lentjies told The Witness yesterday.

Turning his attention to Chiefs, Lentjies was calm, saying that United would approach the match much the same way they approached last Saturday’s league encounter.

“I don’t know, I think the lineup [travelling squad] is almost the same,” said Lentjies.

“We will have the same approach. The mood is good and training has gone well. We need to bring the quality on match day, and if we do that then we are positive that we can get a result.”

Tomorrow night’s match kicks off at 8.15 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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