RETURNED Maritzburg United head coach Ernst Middendorp may have been described by many as an unfriendly coach, strict and shooting from the hip, but there is one thing that must not be not taken away from him - he is a disciplinarian who does not mince his words and who knows how to call his players to order.
This was witnessed when the Team of Choice played away in Limpopo against hard-tackling SuperSport United last Sunday. The local PSL outfit looked more compact in defence, disciplined and organised and the team played with purpose.
A lot of players such as captain Kurt Lentjies, Mondli Cele, Philani Zulu, Evans Rusike, Kwanda Mngonyama, Thamsanqa Mkhize and John Paintsil, to mention a few, were buzzing and looked motivated. Although United only came back with a point after playing to a 2-2 draw, the future now looks bright under the German tactician. However, the PMB team were unlucky not to come back with maximum points.
On Saturday night, the Team of Choice will be visited by one of the most popular and followed SA teams, Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium for a match scheduled to kick off at 8.15pm.
If the hard work, discipline and commitment displayed by United players is anything to go by, the visitors from the City of Gold will find it difficult to deal with the host side and might go back home empty handed.
Middendorp feels his players are on the right track, but more hard work is needed in some areas and there is also the need to stay focused and mentally strong.
“Slowly, slowly we are coming right, but I am also disappointed. We could have won the game, but we will carry on working hard and improving where we need to tighten up.”
United PRO Brian Zuma says the Team of Choice is now looking different and oozing with confidence.
“We respect our visitors, they are a big team, but they will be welcomed by the team that is on the different level and our fighting spirit is just class.”
Wits v Black Aces at Bidvest Stadium at 8pm
Golden Arrows v Chippa United at Chatsworth Stadium at 3:30pm, Polokwane City v SuperSport United at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium at 3:30pm, Mamelodi Sundowns v University of Pretoria at Lucas Moripe Stadium at 6pm, Maritzburg United v Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium at 8:15
Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs15:30 at Free State Stadium at 3:30pm, Platinum Stars v Free State Stars at Moruleng Stadium at 3:30pm, Jomo Cosmos v Ajax Cape Town at Olen Park at 3:30pm.