MARITZBURG FIRED UP FOR AMAKHOSI SHOWDOWN
14 February 2020
The Team of Choice are determined to come away with a positive result from Saturday evening's Absa Premiership clash with Kaizer Chiefs in Soweto.
The match at the FNB Stadium is set for a 6pm kick off.
Maritzburg approach the encounter on the back of a 1-0 league win over Bidvest Wits on Wednesday night in Johannesburg.
Key for the KwaZulu-Natal side could be to find the right balance between confidence and avoiding any kind of complacency, as head coach Eric Tinkler underlines:
“The confidence and morale is high, we’ve seen that in training, the mood is good. But there’s a job to be done on Saturday in what is going to be a very, very difficult game.
“We’ve had good results against them of late. But they’re going to be especially prepared against us and we are going to have to up our game even more than the previous games we played against them.”
Even though it’s Amakhosi’s home fixture, coach Eric wants his men to be positive and proactive, much as they did against the Clever Boys in the opening 45 minutes on Wednesday.
“I think what was important is that we looked to play against Wits. I thought our first half performance was exceptionally good,” he explained.
“On the ball we were very good, our movement, our support play, the combination play was good, the switching of play, balls in behind, was all very good. We want to see that in the game against Chiefs.”
The Soweto giants have been a revelation this season under former Maritzburg United mentor Ernst Middendorp – after finishing last season in ninth place, they currently enjoy a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
But league positions do not guarantee points and coach Eric wants his players to go out with their tails up and have a real go at Amakhosi.
“What I have seen is a team, with players willing to work for one another,” he commented. “I think that is what Middendorp has managed to bring. Are they beatable, yes they are beatable. On the day it’s all about who wants it the most.”
In sixth position, the Team of Choice have enjoyed a solid season thus far, and on many occasions have shown wonderful character and a never-say-die attitude.
As the coach explains, it all starts on the training ground, with physical conditioning a crucial piece of the puzzle.
“I like to ensure that we train the way we play (matches). So you’ve got to be very forceful at training, with the intensity you train.
“Because if you can replicate that…it becomes muscle memory – what you do in training, you transfer to the game.
“We rely a lot on Burger van der Merwe, our fitness coach. I have to complement him.”
In head-to-head stats, Chiefs have won 16, Maritzburg have won five, and there have been eight draws.
The first round league encounter at the Harry Gwala Stadium ended 1-1, while Maritzburg’s last visit to play the Glamour Boys in Johannesburg, back in November last year, ended in a 2-1 victory for the Team of Choice in a Telkom Knockout semi-final thriller.