United at the tip­ping point

PREMIER­SHIP: As two at­tack­ing sides square off, some­thing’s got to give

Weekend Witness - - Classifieds - LLOYD BURNARD PSL foot­ball

NO­BODY knows more than coach Ernst Mid­den­dorp how im­por­tant Mar­itzburg United’s PSL clash with Chippa United at Harry Gwala Sta­dium to­mor­row will be.

With seven wins, seven draws and seven de­feats to their name so far this sea­son, United are in eighth place on the log and are at a cross­roads in their quest to fin­ish in the top eight at the end of the sea­son.

“It is a mas­sive game for us and we will go all in look­ing for the max­i­mum points,” said Mid­den­dorp, whose em­pha­sis up un­til this point has been on de­fen­sive sta­bil­ity.

It all makes for an ex­cit­ing game to­mor­row, given that Mid­den­dorp is ex­pect­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach from Chippa United, who are bot­tom of the log.

“I am sure that they will come here with a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity than what we have seen from other sides this sea­son,” said United’s Ger­man coach.

“They will not play with a deep de­fen­sive line and num­bers be­hind the ball. They will come here and look to at­tack.

“We know that to win this game we will have to be at our very best.”

With only nine league matches left and United fac­ing a dif­fi­cult run-in in their last five matches, to­mor­row’s clash takes on even more im­por­tance.

But the mood in the squad re­mains pos­i­tive, and in the train­ing ses­sions, which are in­tense, the ca­ma­raderie be­tween the play­ers is clear to see.

“We have al­ways had this good mood and spirit in the squad, but it be­comes dif­fi­cult when you have guys in cru­cial po­si­tions out in­jured,” said the coach, who has a fully fit squad.

“Now that we have ev­ery­body back we can at least re­lax know­ing that we have cover and op­tions all over the field and that makes things eas­ier.”

With a num­ber of play­ers start­ing to show signs of find­ing form for United — Cuth­bert Mala­jila, Ter­rance Man­daza, Hein­rich Isaacks, Mario Booy­sen and Michael Mor­ton in­clud- ed — Mid­den­dorp will have a dif­fi­cult task when he se­lects his start­ing eleven for to­mor­row, es­pe­cially when he se­lects his at­tack­ing play­ers.

“It is not a prob­lem be­cause we know how bad it can be when you don’t have the play­ers to se­lect,” he said.

Mid­den­dorp added that he hoped the Harry Gwala crowd would show the team the same sup­port that they did in his side’s last home game — a 2-1 win over Black Leop­ards.

“In all my years here I have never seen or felt sup­port like that [Leop­ards game], so I really hope that will hap­pen again.”

The match kicks off at 3.30 pm and will be tele­vised on SABC 1.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Mar­itzburg United de­fender Rheece Evans in train­ing with the team at Harry Gwala Sta­dium ahead of to­mor­row’s clash against Chippa United.

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