Maritzburg United

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Published 31 October 2019

MARITZBURG READY TO GIVE THEIR ALL IN TKO SHOWDOWN
     
   
 

Maritzburg United know they will have to fight for every ball against a highly competitive Highlands Park side in Friday night’s Telkom Knockout (TKO) quarterfinal encounter.

     
 

 

The match takes place at the Harry Gwala Stadium, with kick off set for 8pm.

 

United go into the game on the back of a four-game winning streak, during which time they conceded just once.

 

Against a Highlands Park side with pace out wide and up front, it’s likely going to take another big performance from the Team of Choice’s rearguard to secure a safe passage in to the semi-finals.

 

“Highlands Park is one of the toughest teams to play against. We’re going to have to run more than them, win all our one-on-one challenges,” said defender Rushine De Reuck.

 

Peter Shalulile will provide a big threat for the Gauteng side, but as De Reuck points out, the Namibian is not their only danger man; the likes of Mothobi Mvala, Tendai Ndoro and Lindokuhle Mbatha are just some of their other players who can turn a game.

 

“I believe in myself that I can take any striker in the league, but they also have other threats, so we need to focus on everyone, they’re a good team overall,” he explained.

 

“We have the quality to all the way, it’s important to apply ourselves, we need to believe together and stick together, take this cup one game at a time.”

Head coach Eric Tinkler meanwhile is bracing his men to be up for a tough physical challenge against an uncompromising and hard-running Lions of the North unit.

 

“We’re all well aware it’s going to be a tough game, they’re a tough, competitive team, very aggressive, and we’ve got to match them in those areas,” he said.

 

“Their work rate is very, very high, both in transitions, offensively and defensively. Long balls, aerial battles, second balls, long throws, corners, set-pieces, that’s where they try gain the advantage.

 

“And then the speed that they have on their counter-attacks - up front Shalulile provides the focus point, he hurts defences with his pace.

 

“We need to match them in those areas, but we need a little bit more than that. We can’t just match them in terms of our work rate and aggression, we’ve got to also show technical improvisations and we need to look to create a lot more opportunities than what we have over the past three games.”

 

While pleased with Maritzburg’s defensive work of late, coach Eric wants to see a bit more in attack from his side.

 

“We’ve been very solid defensively, set-pieces and open play, we’ve only conceded five goals (in eight league matches this season).That’s been a key factor (in United’s upturn in form),” he revealed.

 

“We’ve got better in that area (defending), which has afforded us more opportunities to get the win rather than a loss or draw.

 

“That’s the key. Earlier in the season I remember we created 20 chances against Arrows. We were creating those opportunities but not putting it in the net. Now we’re creating a lot less, but yet our conversion rate has been better.

 

“But we want to be able to create more opportunities, and play more to our strengths in possession.”

 

Wing-back Mxolisi Kunene has cautioned against complacency while hoping that the Team of Choice can take advantage of their home support.


 

“There’s no secret, it’s all about hard work. So far we’ve doing well, collecting points. We’re taking the cup seriously because we want to win something this season.

 

“Its going to be tough, but we have an advantage playing at home in front of our supporters at Harry Gwala, they will lift us. They play a big role for us, as they always come in numbers to give us a moral boost. We mustn’t relax because we’ve been winning games.”

 

This will be the second time the two sides meet at the Harry Gwala Stadium this season – in a league encounter in August, Shalulile scored in added time to earn Owen Da Gama’s side a 1-1 draw.

 

United expect to have a clean bill of health with long-term injury absentee Phumlani Ntshangase the only exception.


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