With pre-season preparations done and dusted, the eagerly-awaited 2019/20 Absa Premiership season kicks off this weekend, with Maritzburg United away at Golden Arrows on Sunday.
The match at the Sugar Ray Xulu kicks off at 3pm on Sunday.
Head coach Eric Tinkler is pleased with the work which was done in the off-season in terms of bringing in nine new players, and he’s also happy to have had a good amount of time out on the training pitch with his men.
“This is an opportunity for me to build a team from the ground up, having been here for the pre-season – which is something I haven’t been able to do for the past two seasons at previous clubs,” he pointed out.
“I have been looking forward to being able to influence the team – how I want them to play – and to be able to prepare them for the upcoming season.”
First up for United this season are Abafana bes’Thende, who are coached by former Maritzburg mentor Steve Komphela.
“It’s a massive derby,” coach Eric declared. “Obviously we want to start well, we want to start positively and that means going to Arrows and getting a positive result.
“We want to improve on last season, and to do that we need to beat those teams which finished just outside the top eight,” he continued.
“When I look at the squad right now, what we’ve assembled with the new players we have brought in, I think we have created a very competitive squad.
“We have two players in each position, and either of those two players could be in the starting line-up. So we’ve created a very competitive environment which is important for moving forward.”
Adding to Maritzburg’s determination to earn maximum points on Sunday will be their desire to end an eight-match winless streak against Arrows dating back to March 2016.
Newly signed Zimbabwean winger Gabriel Nyoni is available, but the other two foreign imports – Micah Lea’alafa and Dan Morgan – are doubtful.
Kwanda Mngomnyama (who has returned to the club), as well as Phumlani Ntshangase, Yusuf Jappie, Daylon Claasen and Thami Sangweni are all in line to potentially make their debuts for the Team of Choice. United’s other new signing is Judas Moseamedi, whose loan spell from Cape Town City has been made permanent.