The match kicks off at 6pm at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in what is the Team of Choice’s second ever cup final in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
To go one further than the 2018 Nedbank Cup final, United will have to get the better of a star-studded Brazilians outfit.
However, based on their exhilarating victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-final, Maritzburg have shown that on their day they can take on and beat the best.
There are many factors which need to come together to win a final, but the underlying ingredient is often old-fashioned hard graft, and the will to win.
It’s an aspect which midfielder Bandile Shandu emphasised in the build-up this week.
“With the quality and experience Sundowns have, whether it’s the starting line-up or the bench, it’s about us working hard, working together as a team. In order to beat them, you’ve got to win the individual clashes and work harder than them,” he said.
Maritzburg are expecting their supporters to turn out in big numbers in Durban, and if they can lift the cup, it would be a fitting way of paying tribute to all that the supporters have done for the team over the years.
And as a local boy, Shandu would like nothing better than to raise the TKO trophy in front of the Blue Army in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Please carry on coming in numbers,” he said, “we will work very hard to give something back to the fans – they truly, truly deserve it, the way they stuck by us last season. To give them this silverware would mean a huge amount to them.”
Maritzburg have not quite been firing on all cylinders of late, but did get a morale-boosting league win over Polokwane City last weekend. In their last six matches in all competitions, coach Eric Tinkler’s men have won two, drawn three and lost one. Prior to that, they recorded five consecutive wins.
Possibly in United’s favour, is that their recent fixture has not been quite as frenetic as Sundowns’ - the Brazilians played in the Champions League in Morocco last weekend before beating Stellenbosch in a league match on Wednesday. That said, Masandawana coach Pitso Mosimane has a squad packed full of quality, with rotation not an issue.
The Tshwane team have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games in all competitions.
Head to Head
United were edged out 2-1 by Sundowns in a league clash back in September. The last time they beat the Brazilians was a 3-1 victory in the Nedbank Cup in April 2018.
In 30 previous matches, the Team of Choice have won six, drawn six and lost 18.
They’ll certainly be underdogs, but that just may work in their favour. “We’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain,” as coach Eric said this week.
Players to watch
Moseamedi has proven to have the knack of scoring big goals – the burly forward did it towards the end of the last season, he did it in the relegation play-offs, and he did it again with a brace against Chiefs in the semi-finals.
Rushine De Reuck
The young defender has gone from strength to strength over the past year. He was superb in the semi-final against Amakhosi’s big strikers, and his height, athleticism and composure could be key against Sundowns’ vast array of quality attackers.
The South American managed to avoid being suspended for the final (after Sundowns moved their match against Stellenbosch forward), and has clearly been his side’s primary threat in the 2019 TKO, with five goals to his credit.
The former Maritzburg attacking midfielder will be fired up for the game against his old team-mates and his energy and enterprise will need to be kept in check.
Sundowns also have plenty of pace on the flanks and the Team of Choice’s wide players will need to be at their best in defence while also looking to stretch the opposition with attacks of their own.