Vasco match will be clincher

2011-03-05 00:00

IT’S another home match and another “cup final” for Maritzburg United as they face Vasco Da Gama in tonight’s Premier Soccer League clash at Harry Gwala Stadium.

In the big match of the weekend it’s the meeting of the “unbeatens” as Orlando Pirates (15 matches without a defeat) take on Bloemfontein Celtic (11 games without a loss) at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium tomorrow.

For Maritzburg, 3-1 losers against Orlando Pirates in Johannesburg in midweek, it is their home games such as tonight’s against Vasco that will be crucial in United’s attempt to fight free from the relegation battle.

The PMB team’s result against the Buccaneers was almost predictable given United’s fragile form, especially away from home, in the face of the focused, determined progression of Ruud Krol’s Pirates.

It has been in home matches, though — and especially night games, which suit the high tempo gameplan United employ under coach Ernst Middendorp — that Maritzburg have looked convincing, even when poor finishing meant they did not necessarily get a result.

With just a three-point gap over second-last Moroka Swallows, United cannot afford to let any more teams off the hook.

The PMB team face a Vasco side well-drilled under former Hellenic player Carlos Das Neves. The newly-promoted Capetonians have not had quite as successful a second half of the season as a first half when they were ensconced in the top half, and have slipped to 13th.

But in dangerous forwards Jonathan Armogam and Sibusiso Zuma, midfielders Zeka Karkee and Joseph Kamwendo and defender Mokete Tsotetsi, Vasco have a line-up that has given a tough game to most opponents they have come across.

United’s leading attacker, Rudolf Bester, was back on the score- sheet for his eighth goal of the season against Pirates.

The performance of referee Harry Lekitlane in Wednesday’s game at Orlando Stadium was roundly criticised, controversially turning down two penalty appeals for Pirates and over-ruling a goal by United that appeared to cross the line before being handled by Rueben Cloete.

Middendorp was furious about the refereeing, though did admit that Bucs deserved their win.

“One of their players used a hand to clear the ball; if we were lucky we could have gone home 1-1, but this has nothing to do with Pirates as they deserved to win,” the coach said.

“But I have an impression that something is going on [with the refereeing]. We need to show you the matches we have played in the last three months, especially those since the beginning of November.

“It can’t always be to the disadvantage of one team. Something needs to be done about this.”

United beat the sixth-placed team in the league, Santos, in their last fixture at home and need to go out with the same sort of application against another Cape side tonight.

Pirates will have pacy winger Tlou Segolela suspended for tomorrow’s game against Celtic.

Pirates coach Krol was as angry about the refereeing in his side’s game against Maritzburg as his counterpart, saying something needs to be done in order to have an exciting and fair finish to the season.

“You saw tonight that the referee didn’t have communication and I find it strange that in these modern times they don’t communicate, even though there are four or five officials,” Krol said.

Elsewhere in the title race third-placed Kaizer Chiefs take on Free State Stars at Peter Mokaba Stadium tonight and second-placed Ajax Cape Town meet Mpumalanga Black Aces at Athlone Stadium tomorrow.

Today: Mamelodi Sundowns v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), AmaZulu v Wits University (Ulundi Stadium, 3.30 pm), Platinum Stars v SuperSport United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Moroka Swallows v Santos (Dobsonville Stadium, 6 pm), Kaizer Chiefs v Free State Stars (Peter Mokaba Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SABC1), Maritzburg United v Vasco Da Gama (Harry Gwala Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

Tomorrow: Ajax Cape Town v Mpumalanga Black Aces )Athlone Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC1), Bloemfontein Celtic v Orlando Pirates (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4)

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