New Maritzburg players are gelling well

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Hendricks, normally a left-back, has started the First Division season in left midfield because of the injury to SA Under-23 international Graham King, and has impressed with his accurate passes and crosses, and ability to get into the box and shoot on goal.

The former Santos player notched up his first strike of the Coastal Stream season in United's second win out of two against Hanover Park in Vygieskraal outside Cape Town last Friday, and says he is enjoying his football at United and under Palmer.

“The coach has been the one who has been building everyone into a team and making us click well together. Team spirit is very high and everyone is there to work and support each other, even the players who are not in the starting lineup," Hendricks said yesterday.

“The reason the new players have been fitting in well is because we are all experienced and we know what is expected of us and what our main goal is, which is to get back into the PSL.

“We played a few PSL teams in the pre-season friendlies and it was as if we should have been on the other side.

“But the vibe in the team is great, and it has been good to work with players who are experienced - and they have been helping me too, because this is the first time I have played for a club outside of Cape Town."

Hendricks (23), began his football with amateur side Norway Park in Maitland, on the Cape Flats. He moved via home suburb side Kensington FC to Rygersdaal, and then to Vasco da Gama in the Second Division, whom he helped win promotion to the Mvela Golden League.

Hendricks was part of the team that included top scorer in the Mvela that season Fadlu Davids, now a team-mate again at Maritzburg, as Vasco pushed hard for promotion to the Premier Soccer League.

Halfway through that season the left-back joined Santos in the PSL, where he spent two-and-a-half seasons as a first team regular before being released out-of-contract to join United three months ago.

“Fadlu scored plenty of those goals from my crosses,” Hendricks remarks light-heartedly of the pair’s time at Vasco, adding that he believes there is still a good understanding between himself and Davids on the field.

Hendricks believes the strong Cape connection at United, with other players such as King, reserve goalkeeper Tashrique Goldman and former Ajax Cape Town playmaker Lynch Pule in the squad, helped in the team’s first two victories of the season at home to Western Province United (1-0) and away against Hanover.

“Even a lot of the PSL teams struggle when they go to the Cape because of the wind and the conditions, which the Cape teams use to their advantage. But as a Cape Town-bred player I went their thinking that we [United] could also use those conditions to our advantage,” Hendricks says.

“Against Hanover we were 1-0 down playing into the wind in the first half, but with the wind at our backs in the second half we camped in their side of the field and ended up winning 3-1. Definitely I think, with four Cape teams in the Coastal Stream, the experience of the Cape players at United could work to our advantage.”