United’s Zakri fo­cused on help­ing create goals for the team

The Witness - - SPORT - CARL PETERS

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.

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