The Team of Choice take on the Chilli Boys in an Absa Premiership clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon, 15h30 kick off.
The Pietermaritzburg outfit go into the game on the back of a 0-1 midweek defeat to Pretoria giants Mamelodi Sundowns.
Maritzburg though were a constant threat in attack and made Masandawana sweat for their win. Indeed, had things had fallen for them more kindly in front of goal, United may have claimed at least a point at the Loftus Stadium.
Certainly, Maritzburg’s cohesion and purpose on the ball belied their lowly league standing, and if they can produce a similar display against Chippa, they could well come away with victory.
“Its going to be a tough game, Chippa are playing at home, and they’re also fighting for their lives,” Xulu told the Maritzburg media team. “But we managed to play Sundowns in their own backyard and dominate some parts of the game, so we have to take the same approach into Saturday’s match.
“We must take the positives from the Sundowns game, we were able to create chances, which is what we need to get out of our situation. If we can manage now to score some goals, that will help to bring our confidence back.
“We’ve lost points because we haven’t been precise enough in the last third of the field. Our defence has done quite well this season, but we’ve lacked a bit of luck at the other end of the field; so against Sundowns we showed that we can create chances, now we have to bury them.”
As the season moves into the business end of the campaign, each game takes on increasing significance, and will also require character and heart from the Maritzburg contingent as the pressure rises.
Xulu though is confident that the Team of Choice have in their camp the right kind of characters to prevail.
“We have got mature players. They understand the situation we are in, and understand that only we can take ourselves out of the situation. The main thing is for us to be united, to keep pulling in the same direction. That’s key for us, and by doing that, we will turn things around going forward this season.”
In 15th spot, the Chilli Boys are just one position and one point above Maritzburg.
The first round fixture, at the Harry Gwala Stadium, ended in a 0-0 draw, while last season’s two league games also resulted in stalemates: 1-1 at home, and 0-0 in PE.
Overall, Maritzburg have won four of the 11 matches against Chippa, losing once and drawing six times.
Neither team has any suspensions for Saturday’s clash.