Orlando Pirates’ inconsistent form this season will certainly not make Tuesday night’s clash in Soweto any easier for the Team of Choice.
The Absa Premiership encounter takes place at the Orlando Stadium, with kick off set for 19H30.
Maritzburg have shaken off a slow start to the 2019/ 20 season by recording five successive wins in all competitions.
However, by head coach Eric Tinkler’s own recent admission, there is a feeling that the Team of Choice are currently not quite firing on all cylinders.
Indeed their recent run of form has probably been based more on their defensive capabilities, rather than their attacking prowess.
But one thing for sure is that the Maritzburg squad are a committed and united bunch.
“The work ethic, the unity, even the guys on the bench. Nobody is pulling faces ‘why were they not playing, why were they not brought on’,” said coach Eric.
“Everybody is backing the guys who are starting, everybody is backing the guys who are coming in. That’s very important because it shows that we are a team, which is key.”
Pirates lost on penalties in the Telkom Knockout to Kaizer Chiefs last weekend. They did however beat Highlands Park 1-0 in their most recent league outing.
And going into Tuesday’s match, the Buccaneers are in eighth spot on the league table with 12 points – one point and one place above the Team of Choice.
“It’s Orlando Pirates, there’s a lot of quality at Pirates,” said coach Eric, who took the Soweto giants to the final of the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup during his time in charge of the Buccaneers.
“We need to go there and perform. We need to go there and not play with fear,” he continued.
“All the coaches will say, when you’re playing against the big three, you don’t need to motivate anyone. The players are motivated themselves.
“We’re going through a good moment of form. In the league our position has improved, so we can go there with a lot more confidence, I think that makes us more dangerous.
“But at the same time, you need to respect a club like Orlando Pirates and the quality that they have. Irrespective of whether they’re having a good or a bad season – they can quickly change that because of the quality they have. “
The Maritzburg players could find themselves up against former team-mates Fortune Makaringe and Siphesihle Ndlovu.
Last season’s corresponding match in Orlando ended in a 0-0 draw, while Pirates edged United 1-0 in Pietermaritzburg.
In the 27 matches the two sides have played, Pirates have won 15, with six draws and six wins for Maritzburg, the last of which came in December 2016.