12 November 2008

Igesund: We are fired up

Maritzburg United are, according to coach Gordon Igesund, fired up and motivated to reverse a three-match losing streak, and it will take playing with gusto to earn a result from their Premier Soccer League match against Wits University at Milpark tonight.

Wits are in second place, having lost just one match. Their brand of football under coach Roger De Sa might be a bit bland for some, but there is no doubting the Students are one of the best-organised teams in the PSL, and United have their work cut out for them.

After four matches unbeaten, United have lost successive games in the league (5-0 against SuperSport United and 1-0 against Lamontville Golden Arrows) and one in the Telkom Knockout (2-0 against Free State Stars). A draw away to Wits would nip the streak in the bud.

“Roger de Sa has done a good job and got Wits especially organised at the back,” Igesund said yesterday. “We are coming off two defeats, but in our last game against Arrows we might have lost, but the performance gave me a lot of confidence.

“On top of that, TV replays have since shown that a legitimate goal [by Sylla Mbemba] was incorrectly over-ruled for offside. I didn’t see it during the game, but the replays showed Ben clearly onside when he took the pass and even when he shot.

“Overall I came out of the match feeling like it was a victory. Arrows are the only unbeaten team in the league and we controlled the game from midway through the first half.

“The guys are fired up for a result and I am quietly confident we can get something out of the game.”

Igesund will have been quite pleased by the performances of the players he brought in for a first start against Arrows, right-back Peter Petersen and forward Collen Zimba, playing at left wing.

Petersen, in particular, added a dimension in attack and supported United’s dangerous right midfielder, Sipho Mngomezulu, well.

Form man Mngomezulu, playing against the team where he made his name before a car accident ruined a transfer to SuperSport, will again be United’s main source of creativity, which could be crucial on the small Milpark pitch.

“Wits use their small pitch to their advantage, but it might also work to our advantage because when you are playing away you are able to close the spaces,” Igesund said. “And it’s a nice surface — a bit like Chatsworth where we beat Kaizer Chiefs.”

United have bolstered their squad with ex-Arrows, Chiefs and SuperSport central defender Siphiwe Mkhonza.

The defender was passed up in trials with United and Arrows in the off-season, but United’s question marks in depth have prompted the PMB team to rope in the experienced player.

Wits’s success this season has been built on a solid back four, albeit one where central players Ashraf Hendricks and Neil Winstanley might be susceptible to pace, and Igesund could be tempted to switch Zimba to striker next to Brice Aka.

The Students’ dangerman is highly talented Zambian left-wing Clifford Mulenga, the current African young player of the year. The height of Dale Studzinski can also cause problems, and United will find these opponents as tough as the rest they have encountered so far this season.

In a full round of matches, the picks are the rematch between Arrows and Ajax Cape Town at King Zwelithini Stadium and the meeting of bitter rivals SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria. Arrows lost 3-1 away to Ajax in the Telkom on the weekend for the Durban team’s first defeat of the season.

Today: Lamontville Golden Arrows vs Ajax Cape Town (King Zwelithini, 3.30 pm), AmaZulu vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Princess Magogo Stadium, 3.30 pm – SSpt 4), Orlando Pirates vs Platinum Stars (Johannesburg Stadium, 7.30 pm), SuperSport United vs Kaizer Chiefs (Super Stadium, 7.30 pm – SSpt 4), Free State Stars vs Moroka Swallows (Goble Park, 7.30 pm), Santos vs Mamelodi Sundowns (Athlone Stadium, 7.30 pm – SSpt 3), Wits University vs Maritzburg United (Bidvest Stadium, 8 pm), Bay United vs Thanda Royal Zulu (EPRU Stadium, 8 pm)

* Article courtesy of Marc Strydom and the Witness