MARITZBURG HUNGRY FOR MORE CUP SUCCESS
20 February 2020
Maritzburg United are determined to keep their run in the Nedbank Cup alive by coming away with victory from their last 16 encounter with Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday night.
The match at the Dr Molemela Stadium is scheduled for an 8.15pm kick off.
The Team of Choice head into the game on the back of three consecutive wins: a penalty shoot-out victory over Stellenbosch FC in the last 32 of the cup, followed up by league victories against big-hitters Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs.
The six points gained in the league last week moved United to 33 points, a position from where they can now target a top eight finish and are highly unlikely to get sucked into any kind of relegation scrap.
That said, United won’t be taking their foot off the pedal, and as experienced central defender Siyanda Xulu elaborates, it’s all about maintaining focus and putting in maximum effort, be it league or cup.
“We don’t prepare differently for any game, whether its PSL level or last 16 of the Nedbank Cup,” Xulu said.
“We respect the opposition, Celtic, and we know it’s going to be a difficult game, away from home.”
Celtic beat AmaZulu 4-1 in their opening Nedbank Cup fixture, and approach Saturday’s match after a 2-1 league defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday, a game in which they made the Tshwane giants sweat for victory.
The kind of fighting spirit they displayed was reminiscent of Maritzburg’s own character, which should set up Saturday’s showdown to be a real thriller, and one in which the Team of Choice will need to be firing on all cylinders.
The Pietermaritzburg club can take heart from a good record against Phunya Sele Sele, having won four and drawn one of the last five matches against them. Overall in 28 encounters, Maritzburg have won 13, with 11 draws and four wins for the Free State team. There won’t be any complacency though:
“We have to work hard, Celtic is a very tough draw away from home,” said head coach Eric Tinkler.
“So we have got to be extremely focussed and have got to stick to our principles, both offensively and defensively. We’ve got to remain humble, because there are no guarantees in this game.
“They’re going to be highly motivated because they know what we have done against Wits and Chiefs. They’ll come well prepared so we need to match them in all areas if we are going to go through to the next round.”
Goalkeeper Richard Ofori has meanwhile revealed the desire in the camp to go all the way to cup glory, following the disappointments suffered in the 2018 Nedbank Cup final and the 2019 Telkom Knockout final respectively.
“We know that we haven’t won a cup – of which is every club owner’s dream, supporters dream, the players’ dream, to win a cup,” Ofori stated.
“I’ve been here for three years now and been in a final twice. To lose twice in a final is very painful. Now we need to win a cup final for the city.
“It’s very important for the supporters. There’s only one club which wins the league, and they are already fighting for that. So this is an opportunity for the smaller clubs to also win something for their fans.
“It’s a big task ahead of us but we know that with hard work and dedication we can deliver for the city.
“We can’t be complacent because if you’re thinking you’re the best, you can meet another team who will discipline you and show that you’re not the best,” the Ghana international cautioned. “So you can’t be complacent, we just need to be focussed, stay calm and take every game step by step.”