Carl Peters
Sport Editor
3 minute read
5 Mar 2021
06:25

United face tough match with Bloemfontein’s “Jekyll and Hyde” side

Carl Peters

Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has used almost every occasion available to highlight the need for greater intensity and aggression on the part his team in their fight to avoid the costly axe in the DStv Premiership.

Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has used almost every occasion available to highlight the need for greater intensity and aggression on the part his team in their fight to avoid the costly axe in the DStv Premiership.

His clarion call bore fruit when his men edged Black Leopards in their relegation “six-pointer” at Harry Gwala Stadium in midweek, and he will hope for more of the same when they visit Bloemfontein Celtic tomorrow.

In fact, his massive plea is arguably more critical this weekend because Celtic are one of those “Jekyll and Hyde” sides who are very strong at home, but extremely poor on the road.

While teams like Maritzburg, Leopards and Kaizer Chiefs have really missed the backing of their supporters in the stands during the Covid-19 pandemic, John Maduka’s men have the sixth best home record in the current campaign, with 16 points from nine games.

But they are the owners of the worst away record on a pathetic two points from nine outings, with Maritzburg next worst on four points from seven trips.

Fixtures

Friday

SuperSport Utd v TS Galaxy — 5 pm.

Saturday

CT City v Stellenbosch — 3 pm

Bloem Celtic v Maritzburg Utd — 5 pm

Chippa Utd v Orlando Pirates — 5 pm.

Sunday

Black Leopards v Golden Arrows — 3.30 pm

Swallows v Tshakhuma — 3.30 pm.

This strongly suggests that the heavy messaging by Middendorp to his players and their improved confidence from the Thabiso Kutumela-inspired win over Leopards will need to be bolstered by effective tactics tomorrow, to get something out of the trip to the Free State.

For a start, however, Middendorp has to make at least one change to his line-up because skipper Nazeer Allie is suspended for the game.

The coach made a couple of surprise selection calls for the Leopards encounter and there could be more tomorrow, as the players are kept on their toes.

Celtic’s own poor form in the league has put pressure on coach Maduka, who has key attacker Ndumiso Mabena suspended at present, but he told journalists this week that he’s not worried about mounting speculation over his position.

“Whatever happens in the future is part of life … We have to continue doing our job,” he said.

ALSO READ| Celtic’s Phalane misses transfer window.

The six-match programme for this weekend gets going this evening with SuperSport United seeking to return to winning ways when they host TS Galaxy.

Tomorrow’s action includes Orlando Pirates bidding to close the gap on Mamelodi Sundowns on their visit to Chippa United.

In terms of the five-match form guide for the Premiership, the five worst performers are Stellenbosch (one point out of a possible 15), Maritzburg (three), Leopards (three), Cape Town City (three) and Kaizer Chiefs (three).

The three top teams over the period are AmaZulu (13 points), TS Galaxy (11) and Sundowns (11).

Over a span of 10 matches, Leopards (seven), Stellenbosch (seven) and Tshakhuma (eight) picked up the least points, while Sundowns (22), AmaZulu (19), Golden Arrows (18) and Orlando Pirates (18) bagged the most points.

While it’s a standard mathematical matter for all the teams in the second half of the standings to have negative goal differences, some of them have really been battling to balance attack and defence, including Celtic.

How they stand

Team P W D L GD Pts
Sundowns 16 10 6 0 19 36
SuperSport 19 9 6 4 9 33
Pirates 19 8 8 3 6 32
Swallows 17 7 9 1 8 30
Arrows 17 7 8 2 8 29
AmaZulu 18 7 7 4 5 28
CT City 18 6 7 5 2 25
Galaxy 17 5 7 5 1 22
Baroka 18 5 6 7 -6 21
Chiefs 17 4 7 6 -3 19
Celtic 18 4 6 8 -4 18
Chippa 17 3 7 7 -4 16
Stellenbosch 16 3 6 7 -5 15
TTM 16 3 6 7 -11 15
Maritzburg 16 3 3 10 -10 12
Leopards 17 3 3 11 -15 12