Lowly Baroka summon some mojo to turn up the heat on United

2020-02-05 06:02
Mxolisi Kunene of Maritzburg United (left) and Matome Kgoetyane of Baroka during Sunday’s Absa Premiership match at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, won by Baroka. PHOTO: gallo images

Mxolisi Kunene of Maritzburg United (left) and Matome Kgoetyane of Baroka during Sunday’s Absa Premiership match at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, won by Baroka. PHOTO: gallo images

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LIMPOPO has been a great place for travelling teams to mine points this season, but Maritzburg United failed to navigate both competitive and physical heat in their Absa Premiership encounter with Baroka at a sun-baked Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday for an unexpected 2-1 loss.

The dismal soccer situation in the country’s most northern region is highlighted by the three clubs from there all sitting in the bottom four of the 16-team standings.

Sunday’s match in Polokwane accordingly appeared an inviting opportunity for Eric Tinkler’s team from the Midlands to consolidate their place in the top half of the log table and extend their seven-match unbeaten run.

However, lowly Baroka summoned some mojo in the stifling conditions and bulged the net once in each half through midfield debutant Ethen Sampson and reserve striker Tshediso Patjie respectively, to sandwich a goal from United striker Judas Moseamedi after the interval.

Said a disappointed and frustrated Tinkler: “It was a very average performance and when you give an average performance, you get punished. I thought that was the case today.”

He will not be happy with the mistakes his team made against opponents who have the worst home record in the league.

While Baroka’s new British coach Dylan Kerr was still waiting for a work permit to arrive, Tinkler opted for one recognised striker in the beefy Moseamedi.

The more slender Gabriel Nyoni was one of the links between midfield and attack.

The sixth-placed visitors made a confident start to the proceedings, spreading the ball across the park and looking to put Nyoni and Moseamedi in motion in the opposition area as often as possible with sudden, long balls in the main.

But it was United goalkeeper Richard Ofori who was called on to make the first major save, stopping Baroka attacker Ranga Chivaviro’s advance after centreback Nazeer Allie failed to do so in the opening 15 minutes.

Soon afterwards Baroka goalminder Elvis Chipezeze had to make his first important move to deny United midfielder Mxolisi Kunene at the other end of the scarcely-populated venue.

Chivariro spurned another chance to score just after a compulsory water break in the scorching heat, but despite United shading the possession stats, the hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Thanks to Ofori and defender Pogiso Sanoka failing to clear a cornerkick by Baroka forward Gerald Phiri, Sampson knocked the ball in from a crowded box.

Tinkler’s men now needed to summon their well-known fighting spirit to at least gain a share of the spoils, but there was a worrying start to the second half for their fans when another defensive blunder allowed Chivaviro an opportunity to seal the contest.

Ofori did better this time to keep out the shot and keep his team in the game. Minutes later, Moseamedi brought the Midlands outfit level with his head in a move which left Chipezeze injured because of a bad fall after his failed attempt to clear the ball before Moseamedi popped it in.

The unfortunate ’keeper had to be replaced with Ayanda Dlamini after a long stoppage to the proceedings and when play swung to the other end, Ofori made a double save as relegation-threatened Baroka improved their possession figure and number of goal attempts.

The hungrier home team eventually made it 2-1 in the 89th minute when Patjie put the finishing touch on a counter-attacking move that involved former United player Denwin Farmer and midfielder Thamsanqa Masiya.

Maritzburg’s next match will be against Cape Town City at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday.

City registered a 1-0 win over Black Leopards at home at the start of the weekend programme to move into 10th spot on the log table.


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