Big injury leaves Maritzburg thin for Celtic cup tie

Deolin Mekoa of Maritzburg United during the Nedbank Cup, Last 16 match between Royal Eagles and Maritzburg United at Princess Magogo Stadium on March 11, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Maritzburg United Deolin Mekoa of Maritzburg United during the Nedbank Cup, Last 16 match between Royal Eagles and Maritzburg United at Princess Magogo Stadium on March 11, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Maritzburg United have confirmed that defender Brian Onyango has undergone surgery on a knee injury and with two suspensions they are now limited in their defensive options for Saturday’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinal against Bloemfontein Celtic.

Both Bevan Fransman and Pogiso Sanoko are suspended for United.

Onyango was injured in the early stages of the 2-1 win over Polokwane City at the Harry Gwala Stadium on March 16 and has since undergone surgery that effectively ended the season for the imposing Kenyan international.

Fransman was sent off in the 2-1 Nedbank last-16 win over Royal Eagles in Durban and is only back in contention after Saturday’s tie at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Sanoko earned the ire of his coach when needlessly booked in the closing stages of the game against Polokwane City‚ picking up a fourth caution of the campaign and an automatic one-match ban.

Davids has preferred to play three centre backs most times – Fransman‚ Sanoko and Xulu – with Bandile Shandu as a left-sided wingback and new Bafana cap Sipheishle Ndlovu on the right.

But he might now be forced to go to a four-man defence with Xulu in the middle with rookie Rushine de Reuck‚ and bringing Bokang Thlone‚ signed from Bidvest Wits in January‚ in at fullback.

De Reuck‚ 22‚ has only started one previous game but did get praise from his coach aftert replacing Onyango in the last game.

“He made a mistake early on in our last game against Polokwane City but how he bounced back was important. That really showed maturity for a young man to be able to bounce back‚ be brave and be into it for the rest of the game‚” Davids said.

“I was very proud of him to come back the way he did. We know his quality. You’ve seen glimpses of him but there is so much more potential. We see it in training every day and once he fully believes in himself he’ll be a helluva player.”

Thlone has started just two games since arriving at Maritzburg after playing just twice in six months at Wits‚ where he moved after the end of last season after an impressive campaign with Free State Stars.

The 27-year-old Thlone last took to the field against Platinum Stars on February 23 but was jerked off at half time and there will be questions about his match fitness given his lack of playing time this season.

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