DURBAN - Independent Media soccer writer Kamlesh Gosai has looked at Maritzburg United and how they could fare in the Premiership this season.
Key player: Brian Onyango
One of their standout players over the past two seasons, the Kenyan international central defender Brian Onyango is a regular who is not only pretty solid at the back to foil the opposition attacks but he also pops up with the odd goal at set-pieces.
Coach: Fadlu Davids
He makes his debut as a permanent head coach after several occasions as a caretaker. Having been mentored by Ernst Middendorp at Maritzburg, Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United, Davids displayed a similar strong work ethic and attention to detail as the German coach during his interim spells in the hot seat. He has already had a bright start by leading the Team of Choice to victory over Mamelodi Sundowns in their own backyard in the MTN8 last weekend. Can he keep it that way for the rest of the season though?
Their growing confidence is a huge boost. Since they avoided relegation two seasons ago, Maritzburg’s belief has shot up and they back themselves to win home and away. A stable and well-balanced squad, and a solid home support base are other factors in their favour.
The departure of the talismanic playmaker and captain Kurt Lentjies to Chippa United deprives them of a calming and clinical presence in midfield. Defensive midfielder Kwanda Mngonyama’s return to Sundowns after spending the past three seasons on loan in the Midlands will also leave a void, unless their negotiations to sign him bear fruit.
For the Team of Choice, a top eight finish and strong runs in the cups will be readily welcomed. And the fact that they are already through to the MTN8 semis augurs well for the season ahead.
Finishing lower than 10th, although missing out on a top eight finish will constitute regression and that is what Davids will want to avoid.
Best: 7th in 2017
Worst: Relegated in 2007
Goalkeepers: Bongani Mpandle, Richard Ofori, Jethren Barr. Defenders: Brian Onyango, Bevan Fransman, Denis Weidlich, Siyanda Xulu, Pogiso Sanoka, Rushine De Reuck, Motsie Matima. Midfielders: Fortune Makaringe, Bandile Shandu, Deolin Mekoa, Sheldon van Wyk, Liam Youlley, Lebohang Maboe, Mxolisi Kunene, Devon Saal. Strikers: Mohau Mokate, Luyanda Ntshangase, Evans Rusike, Andrea Fillecia.