Davids has led United to their second semi-final spot in one season and stands a chance to learn a lot as his side chase spot in continental football
To be honest, the Buccaneers, Brazilians and Amakhosi are South African big guns simply because of the resources and massive financial backing they continue to enjoy.
However, there’s a relatively smaller club in the heart of KwaZulu Natal coached by PSL’s second youngest coach, who has a bright future ahead of him, Fadlu Davids.
They reached the semi-finals of the MTN8 earlier this season and have done it again in the Nedbank Cup where they will welcome Pitso Mosimane’s men for a spot in the final.
For the first time in the team’s history, Maritzburg United have also bagged their 11th league win of the season after beating Baroka FC 2-0 at home on Sunday.
In the 2016/17 they finished at position seven with nine wins, but the season before, they could only manage six wins and finished 14th as they survived relegation at the last hurdle.
Although their first top eight qualification came in the 2014/15 campaign when they bagged 10 wins under Steve Komphela who left the club to join Amakhosi, there has been growth and continuity at the Team of Choice.
It was evident that United were hurt by Komphela’s departure to Amakhosi, but credit must go to Davids, who ensured that the club finishes in the top eight for the second successive year.
The victory over Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele left Maritzburg occupying the third spot on the log table with 42 points, a tally better than what Komphela achieved (40) during the 2014/15 campaign.
Apart from the support through the Umsunduzi Municipality and from club boss, Farook Kadodia, the side from the KZN midlands has no financial backing in a form of a corporate sponsor, but their drive and structure has yielded the rewards, bettering those of some top teams in the country.
Following their excellent run so far, United have a great opportunity to qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup, another feat they will achieve for the first time in their history.
Should they reach the final and also consolidate their third spot in the league, many would agree that those are the qualities of a team waiting to challenge for league honours in the near future.
There is discipline on an off the field – tactical discipline when it comes to their formations, the drive and resilience to fight back when they are on the back foot.
These are the qualities of a fantastic team, and very often coaches get less recognition for a job well done. Davids is the right man and deserves all the credit for transforming the club into a force to be reckoned with in the league.
Look at coaches like Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola for example, one would notice their relationship with the players; how they treat their players pushes them to perform and get the required results.
It looks like Fadlu has learned a lot from his mentors such as Ernst Middendorp and Komphela, who were his seniors, but Kadodia also deserves a mention, for trusting and giving the 36-year-old the chance to earn his stripes.
Should the club reach the Caf Confederation Cup, surely that will be a perfect platform for Davids and his players to grow, especially after putting a ‘not for sale’ tag on some of his top players.
United have three league matches remaining before the endof the 2017/18 term, and will visit Pitso’s Sundowns, before travelling to the FNB Stadium to face Chiefs. Their final match will be at home to Arrows, and they have the potential to finish about Komphela’s men this season.
Although their qualification for the continental tournament will come with costs, the club should help the coach and his players to witness the challenges everyone has been talking about in Africa – that will come back to make the team stronger and expose Davids to many ideas as a coach.
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The talk of who deserves what in the PSL Awards is already making headlines and players such as Siphesihle Ndlovu, Bandile Shandu are touted to walk away with a few accolades, thanks to Davids for believing in these youngsters by introducing them to the South African public.
Even if they Maritzburg don’t qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup, and don’t make it past the Nedbank Cup semi-finals, the club should just remain patient with Davids and ensure that his technical team supports him, especially in the scouting department because the supporters are doing their job out in the stands.
One of Maritzburg’s strongest elements has been how they run the club. Signing players of Siyanda Xulu and Rochard Ofori’s calibre has definitely strengthened the club and they are certainly a much more competitive side under the tutelage of Davids.