Cele’s spark to live on

Maritzburg United’s Mondli Cele finds the back of the net during their Premier League game against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday. PHOTO: backpagepix
Maritzburg United’s Mondli Cele finds the back of the net during their Premier League game against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday. PHOTO: backpagepix

“ORLANDO Pirates are not a Mickey Mouse team,” was the message Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp delivered after their 3-3 draw against the mighty Buccaneers at Harry Gwala on Saturday evening.

Saturday’s clash against Pirates will forever be remembered as the late Mondi Cele’s last game for the club, rightly so, and not the exciting encounter that produced six goals, and sent the Harry Gwala crowd home with smiles on their faces.

Ernst Middendorp’s United did well to go 3-0 up inside 36 minutes, only to let their illustrious opponents back in the game in the second half, after having given them a goal back a minute after going 3-0 up.

Once Pirates scored their second and built up some momentum, it seemed inevitable that United would relinquish all two points, and just take home one, which saw them remain at the foot of the Absa Premiership table.

After the game, Middendorp, although not entirely happy with the point, having given up a 3-0 lead, perhaps understood and appreciated the effort his team had put in on the day.

“We were not playing a Mickey Mouse team. We played SuperSport last week, and we played today a team that some weeks ago played a final in Africa,” the German said after the game.

For the team’s luck to change, Middendorp felt they needed to hit the back of the net more often, although he did note the improvement in United’s form up front. In their last two games, they scored five goals; however, defensively they’ve yet to get better as they’ve seen the same amount go into their net.

Pirates coach Eric Tinkler felt that Maritzburg United were too good to be at the bottom of the table, and said he believed that Middendorp had enough experience on his CV to be able to dig them out of the hole they find themselves in.

“We played them in a friendly in preseason and, definitely, they were a good team and they shouldn’t be in the position they’re in right now, but that’s football. But I’m sure that with Ernst’s experience, they can turn things around,” Tinkler said.

The point picked up means United close the gap between themselves and second-from-bottom University of Pretoria, who were beaten yet again on Saturday.

Following the death of Cele, United have requested that their next game against Golden Arrows in Chatsworth be postponed. The PSL’s acting CEO Mato Madlala - also the chairperson of Golden Arrows - conveyed her condolences to United, with top flight and first division games beginning with a moment of silence.

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