30 October 2008 


AFTER an unbeaten start to the PSL, Maritzburg United were last night brought down to earth with a thud, suffering a 5-0 rout to Supersport United at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville.

Supersport’s victory, which leaves the unbeaten Pretoria side firmly ensconced at the top of the log, was crowned by a hat-trick by majestic Liberian forward Anthony Laffor. It is a measure of the champions’ strength in depth that headline signing Laffor was given a rare start last night.

Against such a combination, and with five players unavailable, United were always going to be up against it. However the manner of their defeat, along with a 2-0 humbling by Free State Stars in the Telkom Knockout on the weekend, have exposed a few weaknesses in the depth of United’s squad, particularly in defence.

United, though, will take much hope from their four-match unbeaten start and hope their last two defeats have been a blip in what should otherwise be a competitive season for the Team of Choice.

Of their five missing players, it was steady left-back Elias Ngwepe whose absence was always going to create the biggest headache. With no specialist back-up left-back in the squad, Gary Goldstone was the player earmarked to fill the role if Ngwepe were unavailable.

With Goldstone injured, midfielder Jeffrey Makoti was asked to defend on the left, and was caught out for Supersport’s opening goal in the 23rd minute. Makoti allowed Elias Pelembe too much space on the right to cross to an unmarked Masibusane Zongo at the far post, who buried the chance from six metres.

Zongo, a player promoted from the youth ranks, was drafted in last night for the injured Daine Klate, who has a dislocated shoulder and will be out until January. The youngster impressed and was a thorn in United’s left side.

Zongo’s cross had alerted to the shaky nature of United’s defence as early as the ninth minute, as Katlego Mashegos’s header was kept out by United goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap.

United did have a touch of poor fortune to the scale of the defeat, and could have equalised just a minute before Supersport made it 2-0 for the goal that started the slide.

Brice Aka’s 42nd minute header from Sipho Mngomezulu’s cross from the right hit the upright for the PMB team. From the clearance, the ball was punted to Laffor up-front, with United right-back Tshepo Mashishi failing to clear, then being shrugged off by the strong Liberian, who finished easily past Gilstrap.

The second half started in the best possible way for Supersport. After Junior Khanye fouled Pelembe, Mashego’s free-kick from right midfield was headed in by Ricardo Katza to make it 3-0.

In the 82nd minute, central defender Sylla Mbemba, who followed a poor performance against Stars with another shaky display, tried to dribble out of defence and was robbed. The ball was worked to Laffor who finished with a strong shot from just outside the area.

Then the Liberian had his hat-trick, again easily ghosting through the defence, rounding Gilstrap and finishing into an open goal to round off a 5-0 rout.

There is little respite for United, who next face on-form Lamontville Golden Arrows, 4-2 winners over Mamelodi Sundowns and 4-1 destroyers of Kaizer Chiefs this season, at Woodburn Stadium on Wednesday next week.

Yesterday: Supersport United 5 Maritzburg United 0, Orlando Pirates 1 Moroka Swallows 0, Santos 2 Free State Stars 0, Wits University 1 Mamelodi Sundowns 2, Bay United 0 Platinum Stars 3, Lamontville Golden Arrows 2 Thanda Royal Zulu 2, Bloemfontein Celtic 0 Kaizer Chiefs 1, AmaZulu 2 Ajax Cape Town 0

Article courtesy of Marc Strydom and The Witness