MATCHDAY: Phala, Brockie & Co To Catch Maritzburg On The Counter?
MTN8 Preview - Maritzburg United v SuperSport United 9 September
Maritzburg United play host to SuperSport United in today’s MTN8 semi-final second leg at Harry Gwala Stadium and we take you through some key talking points ahead of the game.
The Team of Choice come into the game with an advantage over Eric Tinkler’s men, who were frustrated in their home game as Lebogang Maboe scored a vital away goal in the 1-1 draw on 26 August.
Surprisingly, the statistics indicate that Maritzburg were dominant on the night, completing more passes (309 to SuperSport’s 292 and keeping possession for most of the game (53.3%). They also took more shots (15 to SuperSport’s 11), while winning more balls (14 to 131) and winning an equal number of corners (five).
However, SuperSport were the better team in term of individual performances, with Keegan Ritchie making the most touches (72) and passes (59), Bradley Grobler taking the most shots (three) and Thuso Phala making the most shot assists (six) on the night.
It would appear that Maritzburg are a team that is greater than the sum of its parts under coach Fadlu David this season and perhaps the best example of this is the growing partnership between Evans Rusike, Lebogang Maboe and Siphesihle Ndlovu, who have all assisted or scored at least once so far this season, with Rusike scoring three goals and Maboe finding the net twice.
Ndlovu’s performances have not only been in that combination, however, as he won no fewer than 15 balls in the first leg, with only Siyanda Xulu and Pogiso Sanoka winning more balls throughout the game for the team.
For SuperSport, on the other hand, the focus will be on Jeremy Brockie, as he returns to action following his exclusion from the squad for the first leg. Himself, Thuso Phala, Aubrey Ngoma and Dove Wome have all been involved in the team’s four goals scored this season and the question comes down to which of them will make Eric Tinkler’s starting XI.
What is clear, however, is that SuperSport have been more comfortable without possession this season (with an average possession of 43.2%)and will be happy to sit back, absorb pressure and catch Maritzburg on the counter – Thuso Phala’s pace will be key to this, as was seen in the first leg where he scored the opening goal.
There’s no doubt that this will be a tactical battle of note and it will all come down to who gets it right on the night. Two of South Africa’s up-and-coming coaches will have been preparing for weeks to book their place in this year’s final.
Who do you think will win today’s game?