11 May 2009  

SATURDAY’s PSL relegation nailbiter at Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale turned into a celebration for Maritzburg United.

A good turnout of Maritzburg fans arrived for the potentially crucial game, where United might have needed a win or draw to steer clear of the play-offs. But with news filtering through from QwaQwa by half time that Free State Stars were 4-0 up against Bloemfontein Celtic, the result became inconsequential for the visitors, though still crucial for Thanda.

The Swedish-owned team still needed a win to leapfrog Celtic themselves, but even with United appearing to slack off significantly after the break, they could not produce the fight required for these sort of games.

Thanda will need a lot more application if they are to survive the play-offs against Carara Kicks — losers of the NFD final against Jomo Cosmos yesterday — and Inland and Coastal stream runners-up Mpumalanga Black Aces and FC Cape Town.

The stakes of Saturday’s game were always going to result in safety-first tactics and tetchy exchanges, as free-flowing football went out the window. Thanda’s Nkosinathi Nhleko hit the post after a mix-up between Bageta Dikilu and Elias Ngwepe in a rare chance of a scrappy 90 minutes.

Now that United are safe, their attention turns to next season. “We would like to thank all our supporters who travelled to Hammarsdale for our closing game,” United chairman Farouk Kadodia said last night.

Kadodia said the management and technical team will sit down this week to analyse the past season and map the way forward.

“It is important that we isolate the mistakes … and areas to improve on. Since January we had a new lease of life and you could see from the way the team was playing at Woodburn that there was something special there … But on the road it was a different story, and we must identify the reasons for that. Financially we have to look at how we can sustain the club … We are the only team in the PSL without a sponsor, which is a tremendous disadvantage.”

United must also begin retaining the bulk of a squad that has shown potential this season, including loan players such as Tony Tsabedze from SuperSport United, Fanyana Dhladhla, Elias Ngwepe (Sundowns) and Gary Goldstone (Celtic).

* Article courtesy of Marc Strydom and the Witness