United plan strong finish

2018-05-09 06:01
Maritzburg United will have shot-stopper Richard Ofori back from suspension when they host Golden Arrows in their last Absa Premiership fixture at Harry Gwala Stadium in a fortnight.PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES

Maritzburg United will have shot-stopper Richard Ofori back from suspension when they host Golden Arrows in their last Absa Premiership fixture at Harry Gwala Stadium in a fortnight.PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES

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THE ambitious and youthful men of Maritzburg United will have to “press the reset button” as they contemplate their last two matches of the 2017/18 season — both massive assignments for them.

Not only is coach Fadlu Davids expecting his sprightly men to have renewed hunger for their next assignment after losing to Chiefs last weekend, but the reboot will also feature three key players coming back into the selection frame to give Davids a full complement of hopefully-recharged players.

“It’s kind of a good thing that we lost to Chiefs, because we have to forget all the praise we got from everybody for our positive results recently and will have to press the reset button,” said Davids yesterday in putting a positive spin on Saturday’s 2-0 loss in Egoli.

“The loss came at the right time. We now have to go back to the things we did in the league and Cup before we lost to Chiefs for our next match.”

That next match for the fourth-placed “Men in Blue”, as Maritzburg players call themselves, is a KwaZulu-Natal derby against the recently-improved Golden
Arrows team in the last round of the Absa Premiership at Harry Gwala Stadium on
Saturday, May 12.

For that assignment, Davids will welcome his first-choice goalkeeper Richard Ofori, influential midfielder Siphesihle Ndlovu and often-used substitute Mxolisi Kunene back from one-game suspensions that kept them out of the clash with Chiefs, who leapfrogged Maritzburg into third place with their deserved win on home soil.

More good news on the manpower front is that Davids has no major injuries affecting his selection process at this point in time.

The league showdown with Arrows in front of the “Blue Army” of chanting United fans will be followed seven days later by the most exciting fixture in the club’s 14-year history — the Nedbank Cup final against equally hungry Free State Stars in Cape Town.

Davids said that he was still hopeful of finishing third in the league before plotting Stars’ downfall a week later.

That would come to pass with a win over Arrows and a loss for Chiefs in their last match against relegation-threatened Ajax Cape Town in the Mother City on the same day, because Chiefs sit on 45 points and Maritzburg have 43. Arrows are six points behind Maritzburg in seventh place, while Ajax lie just above already-relegated Platinum Stars at the base of the standings but will avoid the play-offs should a combination of positive results emerge for them before the curtain comes down on the 30-game league campaign.

Davids said: “I want us to finish on 46 points, even if we don’t go back into third place. So, we will be going all out for a win against Arrows with all our regular players. “We will not be resting any players in the Arrows game with the Cup final in mind. We must first worry about Arrows and then Free State Stars.

“Another reason we can’t afford to rest players is because there is no fixture this week and any rested players would not played for two weeks before the Cup final. That would not be good for their rhythm.”

Aside from Davids’ men and Chiefs fighting for a third-place finish in the last round of league games in a fortnight, Arrows are among a handful of clubs eyeing two places still available in the top-eight bracket, while Ajax are part of another group lower down the log table trying to evade the play-offs.

• sport@witness.co.za


FINAL LEAGUE FIXTURES AT 3 PM ON MAY 12

Maritzburg Utd v Golden Arrows, Ajax CT v Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates v Free State Stars, SuperSport Utd v Baroka, Platinum Stars v Bidvest Wits, Bloem Celtic v Mamelodi Sundowns, AmaZulu v Cape Town City, Polokwane City v Chippa Utd

HOW THEY STAND

Team P W D L F A Pts
Sundowns 29 18 5 6 49 24 59
Pirates 29 14 10 5 39 25 52
Chiefs 29 11 12 6 25 21 45
Maritzburg 29 11 10 8 35 22 43
CT City 29 11 7 11 26 26 40
Free State 29 10 10 9 28 29 40
Arrows 29 8 13 8 35 33 37
Chippa 29 7 15 7 26 25 36
Celtic 29 8 12 9 25 32 36
Wits 29 9 9 11 27 35 36
AmaZulu 29 8 11 10 29 35 35
Baroka 29 7 13 9 32 37 34
Polokwane 29 6 15 8 30 33 33
SuperSport 29 7 12 10 24 30 33
Ajax CT 29 8 7 14 26 31 31
Platinum 29 4 9 16 20 38 21

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