United take on ‘unorthodox’ Stars

2012-04-27 00:00

MARITZBURG United travel to the small town of Phuthaditjhaba this morning for a tricky PSL assignment against Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

While United are flying high after 1-0 victories over PSL giants Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns last week, coach Ernst Middendorp will be without three of his regular starters for tomorrow’s affair. Defenders Byrone Hendricks and Peter Petersen and striker Cuthbert Malajila have all reached their yellow card limit and are suspended.

The loss of Malajila is of concern as the Zimbabwean was the match-winner against both Chiefs and Sundowns, but United assistant coach Fadlu Davids has backed Diyo Sibisi to replicate Malajila’s good form.

“We will definitely miss Cuthbert, but Diyo is our top goal scorer and we know that he can do the job,” Davids told The Witness yesterday.

With Hendricks and Petersen both out, Mor Diouf and David Booysen are expected to start in central defence, while a returning Rheece Evans could find himself at right fullback.

Ryan de Jongh’s impressive start to his PSL career should see him continue at left back, but Davids said tomorrow’s match would be a stern test for the 22-year-old.

“He has massive potential and a very bright future,” said Davids. “He needs to take it game by game and he needs to prove that he can give the same performances against the smaller teams. This is the test for him.”

Stars, in fifth place on the table, will desperately be looking for the three points as they still have a mathematical possibility of winning the league. Only six points behind log leaders Orlando Pirates, the Free State side have performed above expectations under coach Steve Komphela this season.

“They are a very unorthodox team and it is difficult to put your finger on what it is exactly their strengths are,” said Davids. “They are a physical side who like their fullbacks to get forward and stretch you, but we are prepared for this.”

It won’t be an easy task, but United have proved on numerous occasions this season that they lift their game when playing the bigger sides in the league.

“Everybody is in high spirits but that can often be where the problem begins,” said Davids. “We need to take our last two performances and show the same determination against all the teams we play, not just the bigger clubs.”

After adopting cautious approaches in the victories over Chiefs and Downs, Davids revealed that United would not change anything for tomorrow’s match.

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SABC 1.

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