A visit by Kaizer Chiefs is the highlight on the calendar for most clubs in this country and it’s no different in Pietermaritzburg, where there is always good support for any Absa Premiership game, not to mention when Amakhosi come to town and it’s a sold-out affair.
To an extent, the Team of Choice have already enjoyed a warm-up for the match in terms of last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium, which also saw the ground packed to capacity.
The stalemate kept Maritzburg’s unbeaten league record intact in what has been an exciting start to the campaign for coach Fadlu Davids’ youthful side.
With the Harry Gwala set to be a cauldron of excitement and noise on Wednesday, cool heads will also be crucial, and in the likes of Bafana Bafana-capped and former Russia-based defender Siyanda Xulu and Ghana international keeper Richard Ofori, the Team of Choice have two players with experience on several continents.
Xulu, a former Sundowns and Chiefs player, says his association with Amakhosi will be of no distraction to him on Wednesday:
“I’m contracted to Maritzburg now, so my focus is on them and to try and help us get a positive result. Maritzburg are currently doing well, so it’s important for me to focus on that.
“We have been approaching the games the same, whether it be Pirates or Ajax, we’ve been doing the same things, and this has been working for us. So I don’t think changing the way we train, the way we prepare for any game would be good, as that could cause confusion.
“So as we go into our last few sessions before the Chiefs match, we’re keeping the same approach as the other games.
“Playing in front of a big crowd is not something foreign to me, I’m used to that and so I don’t think it will affect my game or put me under pressure,” he added.
Ofori, meanwhile, made his Maritzburg debut last weekend against Pirates and after keeping a clean sheet and showing excellent presence at the back, he is hopeful of putting in another solid performance against one of Africa’s most famous clubs.
“Kaizer Chiefs is the biggest team in South Africa - they have a lot of fans, and they will have a lot of supporters at the stadium on Wednesday. But we are playing home, and the players are ready to give their all for the club and for the Maritzburg fans,” said the Black Stars shot-stopper.
“We are on course in terms of the log, but we want to take maximum points against Chiefs in order to move forward with confidence. If we’re at our best, I believe we can surely win this game.”
Despite his short time in South Africa, Ofori knows well what he and his team-mates will be up against.
“When I was still in Ghana I was able to watch some of Chiefs’ matches on TV. They looked a very good team. They have a very good attack, they also play on the counter-attack and are dangerous around the 18-yard box.
“They beat Cape Town City last week, and then drew with Wits – I have seen that game, and I believe they have a strong team. And they have a former Maritzburg coach [Steve Komphela], so he won’t want to lose this match and I’m expecting a very tough one.
“I’ve enjoyed myself so far in South Africa – good players, coaches, good pitches as well. I was happy with my performance against Pirates, I need to continue that now and make sure the team will go forward,” he added.
This match is a ticket-only encounter. The full list of official ticket outlets are:
• All Shoprite Checkers outlets
• Maritzburg United Offices 397 Victoria Road
• SuperSave Supermarket Retief Street
• OK Minimark College Road
Please be wary of fake ticket sales and use the official channels only - click here for more info
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