Do or die for United

2019-04-10 06:02
Veteran defender Nazeer Allie says Maritzburg United players will give their all during this closing stage of the Absa Premiership relegation battle. PHOTO: gallo images

Veteran defender Nazeer Allie says Maritzburg United players will give their all during this closing stage of the Absa Premiership relegation battle. PHOTO: gallo images

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MARITZBURG United coach Eric Tinkler says it’s clear to everybody that his players have to be ready to die with their boots on during this closing stage of the relegation dogfight — and there’s absolute agreement from defender Nazeer Allie and striker Mohau Mokate.

Tinkler’s basement outfit trade blows with Bloem Celtic at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday in their sixth-last match of a torrid campaign and have to make up at least four points on their rivals before the Absa Premiership season ends next month.

The grounded former Bafana Bafana hard-man reckons he can only do so much for the club because he does not get to lock horns with the opposition on the field of play, but Allie and Mokate understand that that the players have to deliver the goods between the four lines following their recent recess.

Said veteran Allie: “Yes, it’s crunch time for us. This game is like a Cup final for us. We have to go out there and win it at all costs.

You don’t need any motivation to win, you have to be motivated from the start already [of fighting relegation].”

He said their challenge could be seen in that fact that Celtic had done well this season despite “distractions off the field”, including financial difficulties at the Free State club.

“They have shown character.

We have to be at our best to protect our goal and obviously to score goals.

We take positives from the win we had against them in the first round because they did all the playing after we scored, but could not get a goal.

We have to do something similar on Friday, but obviously attack them from the start of the match.

“We have to defend well, too, because we have not been keeping clean sheets in recent games.”

His team-mate Mokate said the attackers at the club needed to improve their strike rate urgently as part of the survival campaign.

“We have to keep fighting, because we want to come out of the situation we are in. I can say we are ready to put up a good fight against Celtic,” he said.

“Celtic are one of the teams good in combination play, and they have speedy fullbacks.

We have to contain them in the middle and try to exploit them at the back, where they are a bit slow.

We strikers have not been scoring well, to be honest, but now it is do or die and we must work hard. If a striker is not scoring, he must at least help another player to score.

“It will help a lot of people connected to the club if we survive.

I believe we need 12 points [out of 18] to do that.”

Tinkler said he had all but defender Brian Onyango and midfielder Keagan Buchanan in fine physical condition ahead of Friday night’s “must-win” game against mid-table Celtic.

The two players have missed a different number of matches through injury, with Buchanan falling out in the first half of the season already.

Maritzburg have won just two of 12 home matches this season, both under Tinkler’s guidance.

Friday’s game in the Midlands is one of seven taking place in the domestic league this weekend.

FIXTURES

Friday

Maritzburg Utd v Bloem Celtic — 8 pm

Saturday

Golden Arrows v Cape Town City — 3 pm

Bidvest Wits v Orlando Pirates — 3 pm

Highlands Park v Free State Stars — 3 pm

Kaizer Chiefs v Baroka — 6 pm

AmaZulu v Chippa Utd — 8.15 pm

Sunday

Polokwane City v Black Leopards — 3 pm

STANDINGS

Team P W D L F:A Pts
Sundowns 24 11 11 2 30:18 44
Pirates 24 10 11 3 33:21 41
Wits 24 12 5 7 36:25 41
CT City 24 11 7 6 39:30 40
SuperSport 24 11 6 7 25:21 39
Polokwane 24 9 10 5 31:26 37
Chiefs 24 9 9 6 30:23 36
Celtic 24 8 7 9 28:29 31
Highlands 24 6 12 6 29:28 30
Arrows 24 6 10 8 22:25 28
AmaZulu 24 9 5 10 28:34 26
Leopards 22 6 7 9 23:32 25
Free State 24 6 6 12 25:38 24
Chippa 24 4 9 11 20:28 21
Baroka 24 4 9 11 20:29 21
Maritzburg 24 3 8 13 14:26 17

They have shown character. We have to be at our best to protect our goal and obviously to score goals.

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