Coach wants players to focus for whole 90 minutes

Team of Choice end 15-game winless streak

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Ernst Middendorp, coach of Maritzburg United during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between Maritzburg United and Bloemfontein Celtic at Harry Gwala Stadium, Pietermaritzburg on 02 January 2021.
Ernst Middendorp, coach of Maritzburg United during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between Maritzburg United and Bloemfontein Celtic at Harry Gwala Stadium, Pietermaritzburg on 02 January 2021.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Maritzburg United coach Ernst “Mazinyo” Middendorp has given a sense their crucial 2-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at the weekend is special to everyone associated with the Team of Choice.

The win, courtesy of Thabiso Kutumela’s brace, didn’t just hand Maritzburg their maiden three points of the season, it also meant United ended their 15-game winless streak. Before beating Celtic, who struck via Victor Letsoalo, Maritzburg had won last season, beating Polokwane City 1-0 in March last year.

“It’s not only me [who’s happy that the club have finally returned to winning ways]. I think the entire institution of Maritzburg United [is excited]. The entire stakeholders [are happy]. The fans were definitely waiting for it,” said Middendorp.

As much as he values the win over Celtic, thinking it narrows a gap between them and other bottom-half clubs, Mazinyo wasn’t too pleased at the way his charges played in the second stanza, challenging them to manage the game well if they’re winning.

[The win was needed] to get connected to the rest of the pack. But we are aware that each and every player can still do more, in particular in the second-half where we didn’t manage the game the way we’d discussed,” said Middendorp.

“[When] you’re leading 2-0, of course you must know the importance of managing the game well.”

In the same breath, Middendorp acknowledged that the impact of coronavirus could be one of the reasons his troops regressed in the second period, disclosing five of his players had just recovered from the novel virus.

“We had five players on the field who were just coming back from Covid-19 after testing positive. That’s a reality and not only on our side but at other teams too,” said Middendorp.

“You could see some players were hanging a little bit soft here and there towards the end of the match. [However] what counts is the result, getting three points and getting connected to the teams in front of us, that’s crucial.”

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