The Team of Choice host the Lions of the North in a first round showdown at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night, having drawn 0-0 with Cape Town City in their last league match – a fortnight ago.
“Two weeks gives you a fresh perspective, it gives players an opportunity to put up their hand and show they want to be part of it (the starting XI), so there will most likely be some changes,” Maritzburg head coach Fadlu Davids revealed.
“You can see the signs in the training sessions that the players are really pushing themselves to push their games to the next level. You can see the commitment and eagerness to play in the TKO and get to the next round.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our players. They are still feeling the pain of losing the 2017 Nedbank Cup final, it’s an opportunity to correct that.
“But we are not thinking now about winning the cup; we are only thinking about Highlands Park and getting through to the next round. That’s our only focus now.”
United will of course be up against former Maritzburg captain Bevan Fransman on Saturday.
“We know Bevan is a leader, he was our captain,” coach Fadlu said. “But it happens in football all over the world, players leave. It’s given Siyanda an opportunity to step into the role and he has been a fantastic captain, taken the job by the scruff of the neck, five clean sheets is testament to that.”
SHANDU: MAKE HOMEGROUND ADVANTAGE COUNT
“We’ve got great support here at Harry Gwala, and we thank the fans for that, for being there for us through thick and thin,” says midfielder Bandile Shandu ahead of the match.
“Now it’s time to give them something to smile about, it’s a big boost for us to be playing this game at home. It’s going to be very tough, we know we will have to fight, be together and fight as a team.”
DE REUCK: ANOTHER SHUT-OUT
“Highlands Park have kept clean sheets against good teams as well, but I believe in the quality we have,” Team of Choice centreback Rushine De Reuck commented.
“We take pride in our defensive record – not just the defenders, but the whole team, it starts at the front. My goal is to continue to help the team keep clean sheets and hopefully we can do better than last season. We just need to score more goals and hopefully that will come soon.”
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