United’s Christmas wish

2012-12-04 00:00

IT promises to be a thrilling clash at Harry Gwala stadium tonight when Maritzburg United host Platinum Stars in a top-of-the-table PSL clash.

Both sides are enjoying a fine run of form at the moment, both are in the top four (United third, Stars fourth) and both will fancy their chances of winning to grab hold of third position as the PSL approaches its halfway stage.

After a shaky start to the season, Stars have proved to be a superbly well-structured side and have responded magnificently to veteran defender Benson Mhlongo’s plea to be a harder-working, more professional outfit.

The result has been six wins in their last seven matches, with the highlight of those being last weekend’s 2-0 win over log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

But United can boast that they have been beaten only once in league action this season, and with the Telkom Knockout final hogging headlines this weekend, coach Ernst Middendorp’s squad is well rested ahead of tonight’s fixture.

“The breaks this season have come at exactly the right time for us,” United’s central midfield workhorse, Michael Morton, told The Witness yesterday.

Both Peter Petersen (hip injury) and Delron Buckley (suspension) are available for selection, while Orlando Smeekes is the only casualty as he continues to recover from a broken foot.

There are just four rounds of fixtures before the PSL breaks for nearly two months as South Africa prepares to host Afcon 2013, and Morton believes that getting to Christmas in a strong position would be fantastic for the squad.

“I think if we could hold on to third going into the break that would be great,” he said.

“We have a lot of experienced guys in the squad who have had success before, so they are keeping the younger guys grounded.”

Morton added that the squad, and Smeekes in particular, would benefit from the lengthy break over Christmas and New Year.

“If you have a guy like Orlando who has a long-term injury, there is a good chance that he will be fully fit by the time the second half of the season starts,” said Morton.

“It is almost like there are two separate seasons.”

But as Middendorp has said before, his squad cannot get carried away and they must take it game by game.

Drawing attention to tonight’s clash, Morton knows that a tough battle awaits.

“They have always had a good squad and they are playing some attacking football at the moment,” he said.

Tonight’s match kicks-off at 7.30 pm and will not be televised.

Those who would like updates of tonight’s proceedings as the live action unfolds can follow @LloydBurnard or @WitnessKZN on Twitter.

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