The Absa Premiership clash takes place at the Harry Gwala Stadium with kick off set for 8pm.
It’s the second time the clubs meet in the league this season, with the previous KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) derby having been just over six weeks back – a 0-0 draw in Umlazi.
Going into Friday evening’s game, the Team of Choice are in seventh spot on the table, with 23 points, and have drawn three, won one and lost one of their last five league outings.
Usuthu meanwhile are in 14th position with 17 points and have won one, drawn two and lost two of their last five league fixtures.
League position and current form though generally counts for little in the heat of a derby battle, as coach Eric points out.
“The derby always brings a different element. Players are more highly motivated, the games are intense,” he said.
“Us being at home, we need to make sure we dictate terms. Psychologically I guess we have a certain edge against them because of where they find themselves in the league.
“But you can’t be taking them for granted – they want to get out of the situation they’re in and the only way is by coming here and performing and getting a result,” he continued.
“We’ve got to ensure we don’t allow that to happen because we’ve got our own targets and our own objectives.
“There is a fair amount of confidence in our squad, but consistency is very important and everyone needs to be focussed and we cannot forget our principles. You’ve got to be motivated and confident, but you need to remain grounded.”
The Team of Choice tactician wants his men to take advantage of playing on their home turf and to come out firing out the blocks. And he feels that an early goal for his side could be crucial.
“The biggest issue this season is that we haven’t scored in the first 15 minutes of a game. And that becomes important when you play these lower teams,” he explained.
“The earlier you score, the better it is for you. The longer you take, the more confidence they gain. We’ve got to ensure we start the game well and that we change that stat.
“Being a home game we have got to collect three points. What we see on Friday nights is the good support we get. The stadium is pretty much full to capacity. We’ve seen the team come from behind on number of occasions, that 12th player has been a benefit for us and that’s key that we use that advantage.”
Last season’s corresponding home match indeed saw United staging a stirring late fight-back, with two goals in the final 15 minutes earning them a 2-1 win which proved crucial in avoiding relegation.
Overall, Maritzburg have met AmaZulu 23 times, winning 10, drawing nine and losing four. Those stats though won’t count for too much - it will likely boil down to who wants it most in what is expected to be a pulsating derby encounter.
Tickets are available at the Maritzburg United shop in the Liberty Midlands Mall, at the club office and through Computicket.
* You can get behind the Team of Choice through our social media platforms - please click on links below: