United will aim to avenge Telkom loss against SuperSport

2012-11-15 00:00

MARITZBURG United will be out to put things right when they host SuperSport United at Harry Gwala stadium on Tuesday night in a PSL clash.

Coach Ernst Middendorp’s men were knocked out of this year’s Telkom Knockout Cup by the Pretoria-based side just two weeks ago at Harry Gwala, but when it comes to the league it is the Maritzburgers who are in the strongest position.

With 19 points amassed from 10 rounds of fixtures, Maritzburg are in fourth place on the table, seven places and eight points ahead of SuperSport.

Memories of the Telkom loss on November 2 have been diluted with back-to-back PSL victories for Maritzburg against Bloemfontein Celtic (2-1) and then Golden Arrows (1-0), but the injury picked up by rightback Peter Petersen that night is a reminder of what a tough clash it was for the Team of Choice.

Petersen was substituted in the first half after falling awkwardly on his hip, and he is still an injury concern ahead of Tuesday, though team biokineticist Burger van der Merwe is optimistic that the defender will be fit and available for selection.

“Peter is doing well. He had a hard fall and he had fluid on his hip as a result, which we have had to drain,” Van der Merwe told The Witness yesterday.

“He has been doing his rehab and has started running and, while he hasn’t been training with a ball yet, we are hopeful that he will recover in time for SuperSport.”

While Petersen is the only current injury concern in the squad, Maritzburg have been fortunate this season when it comes to keeping their big names fit.

“We have been lucky with our injuries this season, any player will tell you that in football you need a bit of luck,” he said. “But we had a fantastic pre-season and worked very hard on getting the guys fit and strong …We have worked hard at ensuring that injuries are prevented.”

The small size of the Maritzburg squad, combined with the work ethic of some of this season’s new signings, has also had its benefits.

“With a smaller squad I am able to focus my attention on every player and any niggles they have,” added Van der Merwe.

“Some of the new players who we have gotten in this season are very experienced and professional, and it has started rubbing off on the younger players. It always helps when you have guys getting to training early to work on their gym routines and rehab programmes.”

If Petersen fails to recover in time for Tuesday night’s match, Middendorp is unlikely to panic in the knowledge that he has sufficient cover in that position.

Byrone Hendricks, Rheece Evans and Ryan de Jongh are all capable rightbacks. Evans scored the winner against Arrows and his attacking threat and pace makes him the logical choice to play should Petersen not recover.

But this all depends on the formation that Middendorp wants to employ — an area where he has been extremely flexible this season. Should he decide to employ two wingbacks as he did against Arrows, then Evans or De Jongh are likely to be the two contenders for rightback while the more seasoned Hendricks could be favoured if Middendorp opts for a more conventional back four.

The match kicks off at 7.30 pm on Tuesday and will not be televised.

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