‘We can do it again’

2015-04-02 00:00

MARITZBURG United could not have been too happy when the latest PSL break came around. They had just stunned Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 at Harry Gwala Stadium on March 11 before a last-minute winner saw them triumph 2-1 at Platinum Stars four days later. The tide, after nine winless outings, had finally turned.

But, just as the wind was back in their sails, the PSL went to sleep as an international break followed a Nedbank Cup weekend, in which Maritzburg played no part after being knocked out at the first hurdle.

If momentum plays as big a part in football as we all think, then coach Steve Komphela must have been cursing the scheduling. But PSL coaches are used to such occurrences by now, and instead United have been hard at work over the last two weeks preparing for Saturday’s crucially important home clash against SuperSport United.

“We have had to maintain the rhythm through practice matches and highly intense training sessions,” Komphela said calmly from his side’s Carter High School training complex yesterday.

The importance of the match goes no further than log position. With seven rounds of fixtures remaining this season, Maritzburg occupy eighth position on the log, level on points (30) with SuperSport and ahead of Gordon Igesund’s charges by virtue of goal difference.

Whoever wins on Saturday will take a giant step towards securing a place in the top half of the table — an achievement that Maritzburg have never netted before and one that they are desperate to this time around.

SuperSport have historically been a bogey side for the Team of Choice, but that idea was comprehensively dismantled in October when Komphela took his modest outfit to Pretoria and shocked Igesund with a 4-1 drubbing. That result, the coach says, has the potential to work in his side’s favour this weekend.

“Sometimes it does work for you. The player who scored that day gets the confidence that they can score again. The players who were in that match will know that they can win again,” Komphela said.

“You go in there with a certain level of comfort and understanding. When we beat them 4-1 in Pretoria they were playing very well …”

One of the hottest names in the league right now is that of Jeremy Brockie. The 27-year-old New Zealand striker has scored three goals in his six PSL starts since signing for SuperSport in January. But it was his wonder goal in the Nedbank Cup on March 21 that knocked Orlando Pirates out that has seen the hype surrounding his start in SA peak.

“One thing we have to encounter is their two strikers. [Jeremy] Brockie is playing well, he is on form and scoring goals and then there is Kingston Nkhatha as well,” said Komphela.

“From afar he [Brockie] looks very deceptive. He looks very awkward. But what makes a striker is the number of goals they score. He seems to have the basics of a striker. His movement is good, he can compete in the air, he can strike the ball, he can sneak in there if the defender is sleeping — all of those attributes tell us that he is a predator …”

Speaking of the hype surrounding Brockie currently, Komphela was philosophical.

“South African players have not been too generous in terms of goals. So the fact that we have not been exposed to heaven means that we see a small heaven as a big heaven. So the hype might be exaggerated or it might be [justified].”

Maritzburg go into the clash without any suspensions, though captain Ashley Hartog remains ruled out as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 3 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

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