United see survival in structure

2011-11-19 00:00

MARITZBURG United will certainly welcome a moment of divine intervention to help them overcome a dangerous Mamelodi Sundowns side in tomorrow’s PSL clash at Loftus in Pretoria.

“Sundowns are a very good team, but by the grace of God anything is possible,” United winger Felix Obada told Weekend Witness yesterday.

United travel to Pretoria for their fifth consecutive competitive match outside of Pietermaritzburg to do battle with the side that occupies fourth position on the PSL log.

United, enjoying their best start ever to a League season, are ninth.

United have won only once in 10 attempts against Sundowns, though that win came in the last meeting between the sides at the end of last season when an Ian Palmer-inspired performance secured a crucial 3-1 win for the then relegation-threatened Team of Choice.

What transpired that day will count for little tomorrow, according to Obada.

“This is a new season so we can’t focus too much on that game,” the 24-year-old Nigerian said.

“But the spirit amongst the squad is high; there is a lot of motivation and we know that we can compete with anyone in the PSL.”

With striker Diyo Sibisi out of tomorrow’s clash through suspension and injury, United will rely on either the experience of Fadlu Davids or the unknown element of Jacob Abobade, who is yet to start a match for the club.

“We have many players who can play there so the coach has a lot of options for a replacement,” Obada said.

“Fadlu has proved in the past that he is a great finisher and then we still have Jacob, Wayne [Matle] and Prince [Olomu].”

United have struggled in front of goal since they lost 7-0 to SuperSport United last month, scoring just once in four matches, but Obada didn’t seem overly concerned by this.

“We have been creating chances; we have just been battling to finish them, which has been our problem,” he said.

“We have been working hard at it and hopefully this weekend we will be able to convert [our chances].”

Sundowns have placed significant emphasis on ruthlessly attacking their opponents this season, but they won’t have it all their way if United successfully implement the tactics that Obada feels will swing the game his side’s way.

“We have to play with structure and follow instructions,” he said. “We cannot give them the chance to play — we need to pressurise them and not give them any space.”

With his accelerating pace and sublime skill, Obada is often labelled by fans and critics as the United player most capable of breaking down opposing defences — a notion that he modestly rejects.

“There are many players in the team who play in the same position as me and who are equally as capable,” the soft-spoken Obada said. “That is one of our great strengths as a team.”

United face a critical moment in their season tomorrow. After a phenomenal start that saw Palmer guide his side to seven games undefeated and to third position on the log, United have picked up only one point from a possible nine.

According to Obada, though, there is still reason for optimism.

“I think we can all be happy with our start this season,” he said. “We are sitting ninth and I can’t remember us having a start as good as this one.”

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 3.30 pm and will be televised on SuperSport 4.

• sport@witness.co.za

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