‘It won’t be pretty’

2018-04-18 17:43
Maritzburg United goalkeeper Richard Ofori reckons it is time the local club shed their underdogs tag as they prepare to host Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Maritzburg United goalkeeper Richard Ofori reckons it is time the local club shed their underdogs tag as they prepare to host Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals on Sunday. (Gallo)

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Maritzburg United will have to utilise their outstanding defensive organisation to neutralise Mamelodi Sundowns’ strong attack in their Nedbank Cup semi-final clash at Harry Gwala Stadium this weekend — and goalkeeper Richard Ofori fully agrees.

The Pretoria-based side currently lead the Absa Premiership standings with 55 points from 27 matches, and have been the most prolific in front of goal, finding the back of the net 44 times, while conceding 21.

The Team of Choice, on the other hand, have been more solid in defence, with a joint best defence in the league by some margin, having let in just 18 goals from 27 matches, the same as Kaizer Chiefs.

Sunday’s much-anticipated Cup meeting in Pietermaritzburg presents the Brazilians with a chance to avenge themselves after being humiliated by coach Fadlu Davids’ youthful crop on their home turf at Atteridgeville back in August, as they fearlessly knocked them out of the MTN8 thanks to a goal from Evans Rusike.

Pitso Mosimane’s charges last won at Harry Gwala Stadium in 2016, beating the home side 3-2 in a league match.

Ghanaian international goalkeeper Ofori is confident that the Midlands club can get a crucial win as they aim to seal a final spot.

Speaking to The Witness on Tuesday, he said they were ready and had prepared well for the game.

“It’s a massive game for both teams. It’s a chance to get to the final. But we are calm and prepared for them.

“We’ve made it this far and each and every player in our team is determined to do their part and make sure that we get the win.

“But it’s not going to be pretty. Some of the players have never played in a major Cup final. So it’s a big deal for us. We have big aspirations and Sundowns is a hurdle to us realising that dream. But we just have to keep calm and work hard.”

The 26-year-old keeper, who has been one of the club’s standout performers this term with 11 clean sheets from 25 league appearances, knows a win will definitely not be handed to them on a silver platter come Sunday.

But he explained how they planned to stop the usually troublesome Percy Tau and company from scoring.

“Tau is a fantastic player. But we also have quality players and we will let the pitch decide.”

Ofori spent two weeks on trial at the Chloorkop-based club prior to joining the Midlands club at the beginning of the campaign, and he is happy with the decision he made to choose the relatively smaller club in the heart of KwaZulu- Natal.

“I’m really happy that I’m making an impact at the club. I’m well received here and I get to play and I know I need to work harder to achieve more.

“Sundowns are a good team and they have a good reputation in Africa. So any player wants to play for them but in football you have to make decisions that make sense to you. It made sense to me to choose Maritzburg.

“They are just as hungry and they have an excellent coaching team and the staff. It was a gamble I was willing to take and it paid off. Here I am about to play a major Cup semi-final clash with Sundowns. But our target is to get to the final and that’s the focal point.”

Kick-off at Harry Gwala Stadium is at 3 pm.

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