United still their own masters

2016-03-09 06:00

THE game of football is never played on paper, and points are never guaranteed until the referee in the middle blows his whistle at the end of the game.

That was seen on yesterday when Maritzburg United, who thought they had done enough to secure a point against Bidvest Wits, conceded with the last kick of the game to lose 2-1.

The result left The Team of Choice rooted to the foot of the table on 12 points, one behind University of Pretoria, and five behind 14th placed Jomo Cosmos. The plan for United would be to aim for 14th place, thereby avoiding relegation, and the promotion play-offs at the end of the season.

Having a look at United’s remaining fixtures, and comparing them to those of AmaTuks and Ezenkosi, United boss Ernst Middendorp would be happier than Shaun Bartlett and Jomo Sono.

While there are no easy games at that level, Middendorp will be glad that they no longer have to face teams like Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits again this season. And, with 10 games remaining, United still have their fate firmly in their own hands.

They will meet both relegation rivals in the run in to the end of the season, which should be to their benefit.

Of the relegation threatened teams, newly promoted Cosmos have the toughest run in. Their next five games read like something out of a Stephen King novel. Between tomorrow and April 16, Cosmos will play SuperSport United, Orlando Pirares, Kaizer Chiefs.

However, it should not be automatically assumed that Cosmos are doomed just because of a tough run of fixtures.

Their rivals would also have to capitalise on the situation and pick up the necessary points. So far, Cosmos are the best placed of the three, and have a four-point lead on AmaTuks.

While the Students have an easier run of fixtures, it’s still difficult seeing them picking up points regularly. Their football, at times, has been atrocious this season, and, considering that, Maritzburg United do not deserve to be at the bottom of the table.

It remains to be seen how the teams do in their remaining 10 games. Between now and the end of May the men will be separated from the boys, and Middendorp will hope to achieve the target he set out to achieve when he first signed for the club, and that is to have two teams below them at the end of the season.

The Team of Choice played against Black Leopards in the Nedbank Cup last night.

United have their fate in their hands

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