The Team of Choice return to Absa Premiership action after a three-week international break when they clash with the Brazilians at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, 6pm kick off.
The lengthy recess has enabled United’s technical team to regroup the players and to focus on some key aspects.
“What’s been important over the past three weeks has been to re-motivate the players, to try get them back into that winning mentality,” coach Eric explained.
“We’ve played quite a few friendly games during this period in order to rebuild the confidence and belief. I think the players have responded positively.
“I’ve been very happy from what I’ve seen at training. Everybody is holding up their hands up which is good to see. A few players have come back from niggling injuries, Miguel Timm, having him back is an added benefit. Thami Sangweni, also almost fully match fit. Gabriel Nyoni as well.”
The last time Maritzburg beat Sundowns was in April 2018, in the Nedbank Cup. Since then there has been a 2-2 draw (in the 2017/ 18 season), and two narrow wins for the Tshwane side last season.
Overall in 29 matches between the clubs, Maritzburg have won six, Masandawana 17, with six draws.
The defending league champions arguably have the best squad in the country, but that should serve only to fire up the Maritzburg contingent to show what they can do.
“Playing a massive game against Mamelodi Sundowns, you know that our players will be motivated because they know who they are facing,” coach Eric said.
“It’s going to be a tough task but there’s no guarantees in this league – any team can beat any team. If we can put on a good performance on the day, we can go there and collect maximum points, nothing stops us from achieving that in my opinion.
“Obviously a win is very, very important for us moving forward. Sundowns is a big club, an extremely successful club both in the league and on the continent. So it’s going to be a tough task. But like I said, if you’ve got the right mindset, a winning mentality, nothing stops you from going there and getting a desired result.”
Key for the Team of Choice will be to find a more clinical edge to their attack, as the manager points out:
”We’ve been working on our finishing - working on what we do when we get the ball into that final third, finally delivery, movement inside the box, our composure in front of goal. We need to punish teams when we create those opportunities.
“I don’t think we’ve been poor defensively, defensively we have been quite well structured and well organised. But you also have to continue working on your defensive shape and defensive balance.
“I don’t think many teams have really caused us any problems and I think we could have had far better results had we put the ball in the back of the net.”
Heading to PTA 🚎
We are off to the Lucas Moripe Stadium to face Sundowns.
Supporters busses leave this Saturday morning. Departs from the Tourism Hub at 9:30am at a cost R300.
Register at the club office, 397 Victoria Road. First come, first serve.