Keeping up pressure

2018-03-19 11:21
Maritzburg United’s Pogiso Sanoka was seen as a hero and villain during the team’s win over Polokwane City at Harry Gwala Stadium at the weekend.

Maritzburg United’s Pogiso Sanoka was seen as a hero and villain during the team’s win over Polokwane City at Harry Gwala Stadium at the weekend. (Gallo images)

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After a patchy start to the Absa Premiership season, Maritzburg United’s recent success continues to draw strong crowds to Harry Gwala Stadium and coach Fadlu Davids is not letting his guard down in terms of on-field business.

The “Team of Choice”, whose highest finish in the Premiership has been seventh under Davids’s guidance, are destined to record their best ever campaign. They are lying a pretty third on the log table with 38 points from 24 matches, following their 2-1 victory over Polokwane City last Friday.

Twelve of those matches have been played at their home ground, Harry Gwala Stadium, and their gritty performances seem to have turned the venue into a fortress.

They have lost three matches, won six and a further three have been drawn. Last Friday was no different in terms of the good attendance figures this season.

New Bafana Bafana call-up Siphesihle Ndlovu and defender Pogiso Sanoka were on the scoresheet for the hosts, while Malawian debutant Muhammad Sulumba netted for Polokwane.

As expected, the 36-year-old Davids was impressed with his team’s efforts, but insisted their goal had not yet been achieved in the league.

He said: “Fantastic start to the game, getting the early goal. But the injury to Brian Onyango was a setback for us.

“It changed the complexion of the game. We were not able to keep our thinking and that is where we definitely have to improve.

“We were sitting back and that’s not really how we want to play, but we have to give credit to the players for putting their bodies on the line and not giving up. I think we have to go over the line.

“This league is so harsh. We’ve seen how every team has gone four or five games without a win.

“So we can’t relax.

“We have to get over that 43-point mark to secure our top-eight place and then look further.”

Davids was particularly happy to see young defender Rushine de Reuck put on a solid display after again being thrown into the deep end when Onyango sustained his injury early in the game.

He said the best was yet to come from the 22-year-old centreback.

“He made a mistake earlier but how he bounced back really shows maturity. He was absolutely fantastic. I’m so proud of him. He has so much more potential. We see it in training and once he fully believes in himself, he’ll be a hell of a player.”

But while he was impressed with De Reuck, he was frustrated with his defensive partner Sanoka for picking up a fourth yellow card for time-wasting towards the end of the game.

This means Sanoka will miss their next match through an automatic one-match ban.

Davids said: “It was all Sanoka’s fault. I’m not irritated with the referee. You can’t waste time in the last seconds of the game. You know you’re on three yellow cards and you still go and do something like that!”

United have the week off, along with other clubs due to the international programme, and will next play Bloem Celtic in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals on March 31 on home turf without Sanoka.

Their next league match will follow on April 3 against defending champions Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium in Johannebsurg.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  maritzburg united

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