Maritzburg hoping for a return to form
DURBAN - Maritzburg United’s strong start to 2021 has ended.
The Team of Choice looked to have turned over a new leaf entering this year as they started with consecutive Premiership wins, against Bloemfontein Celtic and Kaizer Chiefs, before playing out a 0-0 stalemate against arch rivals AmaZulu in the KwaZulu-Natal derby at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban.
Since then, things have gone pear-shaped as they have lost back-to-back games against TS Galaxy and Orlando Pirates.
Although the loss against Pirates was hardly surprising, the defeat to Galaxy would have been frustrating for coach Ernst Middendorp’s men given that it was a game they would have expected to gain maximum points from.
🗣 Coach Ernst Middendorp— Maritzburg United FC (@MaritzburgUtd) January 23, 2021
“We were not at the level that we can be in the first-half. In the second-half we made some changes, and we were more competitive. It’s about decision making in the final third. We have to find solutions and move forward.” #WeAreUnited pic.twitter.com/6f3SSnKZBc
Speaking after the Pirates game, Middendorp acknowledged that his troops struggled to pose much of a threat to Pirates on Saturday.
“We did not really have a chance in the first half and were not competitive,” he said.
“A number of players at the moment are not at a level where they can be.
“I’m not sure if it is due to the pressure or due to fatigue as we are playing three games in six days.
“We were competitive in the second half and I believe that if we showed a little more drive in the final third, in terms of decisionmaking, we could have done better to get the equaliser.
“We must move to find solutions during the week and look to get the players sharp so that they can get the skills going,” the German added.
One of the scares Middendorp would have received in the game was when hard-working defender Clayton Daniels picked up an injury in the first half and had to be replaced by Nazeer Allie.
The Team of Choice’s next assignment will be a challenging game against KZN rivals Lamontville Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, Durban, on Saturday afternoon.
Despite their modest squad, coach Mandla Ncikazi’s outfit have been one of the surprise packages in the league this season and are in the running for a top eight position.
“We will use the first three days to process our recovery time,” said Middendorp.
“Clayton Daniels and a number of players are out with injuries. We will have to see what it possible given the circumstances.”