First up for the Team of Choice is Friday night’s home clash with Bloemfontein Celtic, which kicks off at 8pm at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
There is a healthy respect for Celtic, although Maritzburg striker Mohau Mokate believes there are some vulnerabilities which can potentially be exploited.
“Celtic are good at playing combination football, and they have speedy fullbacks,” he said. ”I think they may have a weakness at the back (central defence) where’re they a bit slow, so if we can bring some pace up front, we can hurt them.”
United managed to beat Phunya Sele Sele 1-0 in their backyard in the first round encounter. But as defender Nazeer Allie points out, the KZN Capital City club had to work very hard for the three points that day. This could well be the case again on Friday against an opponent lying eighth on the Absa Premiership table.
“We can take positives from that game,” Allie said. “Because we were on the back foot – after we scored the goal we were defending, they were playing all the football. So we can take positives from that in that we defended well.
“Celtic have been doing well this season, showing character, they can play football as well. They’re a good team, we have to prepare well for them, and be at our best to protect our goals, and score goals ourselves,” he continued.
“We obviously want to score, but we also have to defend, because we’ve been conceding in the last few games. Now is not time for good football, the result is the most important thing, so we have to go out there and get the three points no matter how we play.
“It’s crunch time for us, a cup final on Friday. We have to go out and win the game at all costs. No motivation is needed.”
While the United rearguard focus on keeping a clean sheet, Mokate has emphasised the importance of the front men also coming to the party.
“The strikers haven’t been scoring to be honest. Now we must up our efforts – it’s do or die. We’ve been doing it every day at training, scoring goals in friendlies. What won’t help is for us to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves; sometimes if you’re not scoring, it’s better if you create (goals) for the benefit of the team.”
Mokate, who believes 12 points from the last six games would likely guarantee safety, is very much aware of the importance of Maritzburg maintaining their top flight status.
“The fans have been there with us throughout this journey. We want to give them the best performance ever. Because now every game we play is like a cup final, they can expect a good game of football from us with a positive result.
“It will mean a lot (to survive), because there are people who are affected if we get relegated. It will help everyone in the community here, people who are selling at the stadium, people who are working in the club, it will save a lot of lives.”