JOHANNESBURG – The spine of Maritzburg United - among them Siyanda Xulu, Siphesihle Ndlovu, Bandile Shandu and Lebogang Maboe - will not be leaving the club at the end of what has been a remarkable season, unless the offers are from abroad.
“I have spoken to each of these guys individually and we have an understanding and the chairman (Farook Kadodia) buys into this as well that none of them should leave for at least another season because of what we are trying to build here,” coach Fadlu Davids revealed this week.
The Team of Choice have punched well above their weight in this campaign, emerging as dark horses in the Absa Premiership title race when there were doubts Davids would even last beyond the first half of the season when he was appointed at the start of it.
Maritzburg dropped crucial points at Bidvest Wits in a 2-1 defeat. But Davids was still upbeat about the progress made this season and excited at the prospect of having to work with the same group of core players for another campaign following guarantees made by Kadodia not to sell any of them to local clubs.
“These players have the ambition to go to Europe and it is our job to get them there,” said Davids, “In our meetings they agreed that they want to have the opportunity to be able to go abroad and joining local clubs for any amount of money isn’t going to help them.”
The coach accepted what many thought was an arduous mandate of reaching a cup final and finishing in the top five when he was offered the Maritzburg job on a permanent basis having been caretaker coach on several occasions.
“Look, the targets were to consolidate the club - to make it a top eight club instead of fighting relegation the one season and a top eight place the next,” the 36-year-old coach explained. “I think maybe we need a win and a draw to consolidate the top eight place and then we can see how many games are left.
So far it has been successful, but there are still a lot of things to improve. We are not yet the finished product. We need to learn how to close out the game for instance.”