Maritzburg United head into the Leopards den on Saturday afternoon, looking for nothing less than three points against Lidoda Duvha.
The Absa Premiership encounter, the Team of Choice’s third last of the season, kicks off at 3pm at the Thohoyandou Stadium.
Like Baroka FC, who Maritzburg play in their final game, Black Leopards are also in potential relegation trouble, which effectively makes both of the encounters in the Limpopo province ‘six-pointers’.
United head into the game on the back of a 0-1 defeat to Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday. The hosts made the log leaders work very hard for their victory, but that will be of no consolation at this crucial phase of the season. Now it’s all about the players showing character, regrouping, and giving their everything for the three points against Leopards.
“We’ve just to remain positive, that’s all we can do,” head coach Eric Tinkler said. “We’ve got to look at the mistakes (against Pirates) we made, especially in the final third. That’s something I’ve worked on extensively since I arrived.
“We’ve got to be positive going forward, which we were, but that quality wasn’t there. That’s something we’ve got to work on.
“People say you create your own luck, which I agree with. But once or twice we have been a little unfortunate. Do we deserve more than what we’ve got from the some of the games, I would say definitely. But the hard fact is conceding the goals we’ve conceded. That’s what has let us down.”
Despite Maritzburg’s recent defeats against Highlands Park and Pirates, the likes of Baroka FC, Chippa United, Free State Stars and Black Leopards have also been dropping points, giving United a glimmer of hope that an escape act is possible.
“Obviously that’s a positive, otherwise our situation would be a lot worse,” coach Eric said. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that our situation is bad. But certain teams have been doing us favours, we’ve now got to take that opportunity and grab it with both hands.
“Its hard, I know how the players feel, I know how I feel. But we’ve got to get the smiles back on our faces and we’ve got to have that belief going forward. Go to Leopards knowing we can still achieve it, our luck has to turn, it has to.
“It’s a massive game, but at least Leopards is a team that looks to play football. We’ve got to match them, go there with that belief that we can collect three points.”
Maritzburg’s cause will be aided by the return of Uganda international Allan Kateregga from suspension. Kateregga came off the bench to score twice in United’s most recent win, a 2-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic.
Leopards are six points above the Team of Choice on the PSL standings. The first round fixture between the two sides in Pietermaritzburg ended 1-1. In the head-to-head record, there have been two wins for each club, and four draws.