United, Pirates tar­get PSL top spot

The Mercury - - SPORT - Kam­lesh Go­sai

GO­ING by the re­sults of Or­lando Pirates and Mar­itzburg United over the last few sea­sons many sup­port­ers would be sur­prised to find these sides con­tend­ing for the top spot in the Absa Pre­mier­ship.

That’s the sce­nario head­ing into tonight’s fourth round of league ac­tion. The win­ner be­tween Mar­itzburg and Pirates at Harry Gwala Sta­dium will sit at the sum­mit come the end of the week­end’s full pro­gramme.

While it is early days in the league marathon, the sight of Pirates atop the stand­ings would raise eye­brows af­ter their mis­er­able 11th place fin­ish last term.

The Team of Choice on the other hand en­joyed their high­est fin­ish of sev­enth place in 2016/17, and are en­joy­ing the mo­men­tum of that dis­play, although the pre­vi­ous sea­son they avoided rel­e­ga­tion on the fi­nal day.

Mar­itzburg go into this game af­ter get­ting knocked out of the MTN8 in the semi­fi­nal sec­ond leg last week­end, fol­lowed by Tues­day night’s 1-1 draw in the KwaZulu-Natal derby against AmaZulu.

“I will have to prob­a­bly

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make eight to nine changes against Pirates to re­fresh the squad be­cause we had three games in six days be­fore the Fifa break and now three in six days again,” said Mar­itzburg coach Fadlu Davids.

“We can’t play with the same team every week. We have to freshen things up and go with a new set of play­ers. We’ve got fan­tas­tic boys in the Diski side and def­i­nitely some of them will come into the Pirates game.”

For the mid­week out­ing Ghana­ian goal­keeper Richard Ofori made his PSL de­but, and chances are he will re­tain his jersey af­ter Davids ex­pressed satisfaction with the “pres­ence” and “lead­er­ship” pro­vided.

De­spite their bright start Davids was dis­ap­pointed with their cup exit and the dropped points in Dur­ban, sit­u­a­tions he was con­fi­dent the young squad will learn from.

“I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed to throw away the two points in the 88th minute (against AmaZulu), but it’s lessons we have to learn. It’s a hard les­son for our young team to take. But how do you gain ex­pe­ri­ence as young play­ers? By mak­ing mis­takes, hope­fully learn­ing from it and not mak­ing the same mis­takes again.

“You have to teach them, coach them, show them on the video, on the train­ing ground, tac­ti­cal, at­tack­ing sit­u­a­tions and move­ments, de­fen­sive struc­tures. It’s a process, they will learn game by game, from every ex­pe­ri­ence they will learn and get bet­ter.”

If the ex­pected changes work well, then Davids ex­pects the team to main­tain their high tempo style against the Buc­ca­neers tonight.

Be­sides the pos­i­tive form, Mar­itzburg en­joy a good home record over Bucs.

They are un­beaten against Pirates in their last three clashes in the Mid­lands.

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