United call reinforcements
THREE matches, three losses. This is clearly not what the “Blue Army” of Maritzburg United supporters would have had on the cards for the start of this new PSL campaign after last season’s heroics by coach Fadlu Davids’ energetic team.
And, the statistic looks worse when those concerned fans consider that two of the games have been on home turf — a 2-0 loss to modest Golden Arrows in the Absa Premiership season-opener two Sundays ago and a 1-0 defeat by Cape Town City in a scrappy MTN8 quarter-final this past Sunday.
Those unsatisfactory results fell on either side of Free State Stars maintaining their historical edge over the Team of Choice with a 2-1 win in the Premiership in Bethlehem.
United managing director and chairperson Farook Kadodia admitted on Tuesday that just one goal scored and five conceded in 270 minutes of play across eight days had rattled their cage.
“We are a bit stressed because our first two league matches both ended in defeat and we are one of just three teams who have yet to score a point,” said Kadodia.
“It does not get any easier with us having to face Kaizer Chiefs at home on Friday. But we have to get our players to rise to the occasion.”
However, there’s some hope in the fact that three extra men could be available for selection by coach Davids this week, in addition to teams being known to automatically raise their standard of play when up against the Soweto giants.
The three, according to Kadodia, are central defender Brian Onyango, fullback Nazeer Allie and attacker Andrea Fileccia.
Allie, a 32-year-old veteran, was one of a handful of new players recruited by the Midlands outfit since the end of last season but has not been fit enough to make his debut until now.
Onyango has resumed normal training after a long injury layoff and is set to face a final fitness test tomorrow.
Fileccia, whose contract was extended by one season by Kadodia’s outfit recently, also faces a fitness test following a calf strain, but is said to be in a stronger position than Onyango and Allie to make an appearance against Chiefs at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday.
Kadodia also stated that, contrary to wide media speculation, no deal had been finalised with Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Yannick Zakri of Ivory Coast.
“The parties have not settled on terms yet and, if this does change in coming days, then the player will have to return to Sundowns,” he said.
In that event, United would have to hunt for another striker from abroad “because there are limited options inside the country.”
Sundowns would also have to pay a certain amount of money in compensation to United because Zakri and less experienced attacker Keletso Makgalwa were part of an exchange deal involving United star, Lebohang Maboe, recently.
Makgalwa and Maboe have already scored a goal each for their respective new employers.
In United’s current situation, the plan will be to avoid defeat against Chiefs on Friday and use the subsequent break in fixtures for tactical work that meshes the old and new men better.
Their next match will only come on September 15 against Bidvest Wits, also on home turf, and eight days later they visit Bloem Celtic.
LAST NIGHT’S PSL RESULT
Baroka FC 1 - 1 Kaizer Chiefs