‘It won’t be pretty’

Ofori prom­ises tough stance in Sun­downs en­counter

The Witness - - SPORT - NONDUMISO ZAKWE

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 yes­ter­day, 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 KwaZu­luNatal.

“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.

LAST NIGHT’S PSL RE­SULT: Mamelodi Sun­downs 1 – 0 Golden Ar­rows

PHOTO: GALLO

Mar­itzburg­ United­ goal­keeper­ Richard­ Ofori­ reck­ons­ it­ is­ time­ the­ lo­cal­club­ shed­ their­ un­der­dogs­ tag­ as­ they­ pre­pare­ to­ host­ MamelodiSun­downs­ in­ the­ Ned­bank­ Cup­ semi-fi­nals­ on­ Sun­day.­

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