Zimba: United are charged up for Pirates

2009-04-06 00:00

WITH Maritzburg United’s tails up from five straight victories and the team hungry for a place in the top eight, and Orlando Pirates needing a victory to remain in contention for the Premier Soccer League title, tomorrow night’s meeting between the teams at Woodburn Stadium is expected to be a show-stopper.

After flirting with relegation for much of the middle part of the season United find themselves challenging for a place in the prestigious top eight — the benchmark for a successful PSL season. And Gordon Igesundís team have shown a great hunger and discipline of late to try and get there.

After a slow start by Pirates under new coach Ruud Krol, the second-placed Buccaneers have played some of the best football in the league, but their 1-1 draw away to Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday was a blow to their chances of reeling in leaders Supersport United and they can’t afford too many more setbacks.

Striker Collen Zimba says United are charged up to meet Pirates on their home ground after a two-week break following the PMB side’s 2-1 win over Wits University on March 24.

“It’s a big game and everyone’s been looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a good atmosphere for us because we are playing at home and our supporters will get behind us,” Zimba said yesterday.

“Of course wherever Pirates play it’s like a home game for them and they will have a lot of support too. It will probably be about 70/30 or 60/40 of their fans to ours, and that will also add to the atmosphere.”

Zimba said United’s chances of finishing in the top eight will increase dramatically should they pull off a win against a star-studded Pirates line-up that includes three players who did duty for Bafana Bafana in the friendly against Portugal last week — defender Lucas Thwala, striker Katlego Mashego and midfield ace Teko Modise.

After a frustrating period not getting a look into the first team, Zimba seems to have reached an understanding with Igesund that has been mutually beneficial — the striker has increased his work-rate and the coach has found the skillful player useful as a gamebreaker.

“Sometimes as a player you must wait to get your chance and show what you can do,” Zimba said. “And then when it comes you have to make use of it.

“I have realised what the coach wants from me, which is to work hard. And I also think the coach has understood me better because he lets me play my game — as long as I work hard too.”

Zimba admits it will be no easy task for United tomorrow night, and expects a highly competitive game.

“Pirates want to win the league and, having drawn against Celtic, they probably will have to beat us to have a real chance. And we are hungry to finish in the top eight, so I think it’s going to be pound for pound.”

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