United’s Zakri focused on helping create goals for the team
NEW Maritzburg United striker Yannick Zakri (pictured) claims to be chomping at the bit to help the club arrest their poor form in the Absa Premiership and grab some goals to shift their log position positively.
The former Sundowns player, who took longer than expected to finalise contract talks with United last month, says he has settled nicely in “quiet Pietermaritzburg” and promises to be a “team man” rather than an unnecessarily selfish goal-poacher.
Zakri’s readiness to make his debut in his goal-shy team’s clash with log-leading Bidvest Wits at 6 pm tomorrow at Harry Gwala Stadium follows five weeks of training under head coach Fadlu Davids that happened mostly during a break in fixtures.
Said the 27-year-old Ivorian: “I am ready to play. The main thing is to win the match and we are fully focused on that.
“I can’t say for sure if the coach will pick me to play from the start of the game, but we know it is not easy to play Wits.
“When you face them, you have to put up a strong fight. All teams have quality in them, but against Wits, you also need a big heart to win the match.”
Is he very eager to score on debut?
“If I play and score, that will be good. But it’s not about me, but about the team. I don’t only plan to score myself, but also help create goals for other players.
“The team came a long way in the league last season and I plan to help them continue to go forward. For me, Maritzburg is perfect — a quiet place where you can focus nicely on your job, as opposed to Gauteng where there are lots of distractions, as people know.
“I want to win every game, but again it’s not about how many goals I plan to score for the season. Yes, it’s my job to score, and I will try hard to score in each game, but the first thing is to help the team win.”
Like Zakri, coach Davids is expecting a long night for his men against the no-nonsense Wits team tomorrow, but still sees room for his men to upset Gavin Hunt’s table-topping outfit from Gauteng.
He said: “They are a team fighting for the league always. They are a team who have had a fantastic start to the season; You can’t compare Wits fighting for the league with us fighting for the top eight.
“They signed players smartly, players who suit their style, like Mxolisi Macuphu and Deon Hotto in attack and Robyn Johannes at the back. But their styles remains the same, with a target-man approach.
“We have to play our game, we can’t fear them. We are at home and, while we have to give them respect because, like I said, they are a top team, we have to turn it around and be more aggressive in front of goal.
“To score more goals is the main thing. We want to maintain our high-intensity approach. The time we have had to prepare has helped the new players understand what we want to do, and the main thing now is the execution on the pitch.”
Aside from Zakri, Davids has veteran defender Nazeer Allie itching to make his debut for United tomorrow, but Keagan Buchanan and Siphesihle Ndlovu are sidelined for different reasons while a third midfielder, Deolin Mekoa, faces a late fitness test on a knee issue.
There is a full round of league matches this weekend, with one of the highlights being MTN8 finalists Cape Town City at home to risky Kaizer Chiefs just before the Maritzburg game on television tomorrow.