Just before the kick off of the Maritzburg United Mamelodi Sundowns clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this past Saturday, 21 April, the field sprinklers turned on in merry celebration of the last game for the Team of Choice in our fair city of Port Elizabeth. The stadium announcer after a small moment of panic remarked that the pseudo rain was an African blessing. He did not know just how right he was!
A substantial crowd attended the game – my estimate of the visible crowd is around 9000. Most of the support was for the Brazilians, a bit disappointing as we would like to see the Team of Choice making the stadium their home base. It certainly is a ‘lucky’ venue for the team as they a have not had loss at our stadium in three games – two wins and a draw.
Going into Saturday’s game Maritzburg had broken a five game winless streak by defeating Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in their previous midweek game, so it was always going to be about gaining three more points and squeezing Sundowns out of their upcoming required 5 game winning streak in order to get a sniff at being champions.
At the press conference before the game, Maritzburg United Coach, Ernst Middendorp was characteristically blunt when asked if he had concentrated on any special motivation techniques for his charges going into Saturday’s game with a single word; “No”, pressed further he said; “The best motivation is winning and picking up points”. In my notebook, Ernst gets a big tick for this and a few other straight talking remarks that don’t belong in a family column – refreshing and a big thumbs up to the man.
Maritzburg went into the game determined to defend and run Sundowns into submission – my impression is that Maritzburg possess younger and fitter players but lack some speed in the forwards. Some spectacular saves from Shuaib Walters kept Maritzburg in the hunt and on the boil as they probed Sundowns defence at every available opportunity. Sundowns dominated possession throughout the game but failed to penetrate the Team of Choice’s defence.
In a physical second half Sundowns did everything they could to score, but Shuaib Walters continued to deny them success finely supported by his defenders. In the 81st minute Cuthbert Malajila received a lovely pass from Kulegani Madondo and drove a clinical low shot past Sundowns goalie Calvin Marlins to make it 1-0.
A deserved goal following Maritzburg’s Diouf’s failure to connect the ball properly to score off of a Felix Obada set piece minutes before the end of the first half.
Saturday’s victory places Maritzburg United 10th on the log with 26 points from 7 wins 11 draws and 8 losses.
Maritzburg United’s results when playing at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium:
- 21 April 1-0 win against Mamelodi Sundowns
- 14 March 2-0 win against Bloemfontein Celtic
- 1 November 2011 0-0 draw against Kaizer Chiefs
A thoroughly entertaining game – lets up we can see more PSL Soccer wend it’s way to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and, more importantly, lets hope to secure a top team to make our fair city it’s home.
Video highlights of the Maritzburg United Mamelodi Sundowns game.