The fact that results have not been going Cape Town City’s way will by no means make Maritzburg United’s clash with the Citizens on Friday an easy one.
The Team of Choice take on the Citizens in an Absa Premiership encounter at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night (8pm kick off), looking to secure a third consecutive league win and a fourth victory on the trot in all competitions.
For head coach Eric Tinkler and his right-hand man, Vincent Kobola, the match will mark a return to the team where they both previously worked.
Now under Benni McCarthy, the Cape side are on a run of eight matches without a win in all competitions, although that statistic surely belies the quality which Friday night’s opponent possess.
“Another difficult game, Cape Town City are an extremely good team,” said coach Eric. “They are going through a bit of a rough period at the moment and it’s also important for them to get back to winning ways.
“We are going to have to be at our best if we want to go there and collect all three points, it’s not going to be an easy football match.”
Maritzburg beat Bidvest Wits on penalties in a Telkom Knockout first round match last Friday and before that, they recorded league wins over Chippa United and Baroka FC.
Coach Eric now hopes that the victory over the Clever Boys – another of his former employers, will see his side playing with a greater sense of confidence.
“It was massive (the Wits win). That will only boost their confidence. We played against [one of] the league leaders, Bidvest Wits. Now we see, we can actually beat them, even the teams at the top, not only the ones at the bottom.
“So hopefully that self-belief and self-confidence comes into the team so that when we go to Cape Town City, we can start producing the football that we know we can.
“For me it’s about winning football matches – trying to get the team to start believing in themselves that they can achieve a lot more.
“The main aim for us is to climb the league table and the most important thing right now is to create that winning mentality.”
Coach Vincent meanwhile commented that there will be no time for sentiment against his former club, and says the intensity at training has been good this week as Maritzburg brace themselves for what will be a hard-fought 90 minutes.
“Three wins in a row, and the boys want to make it four. We’re ready and have worked hard this week because we know it won’t be easy against Cape Town City,” he said.
“I still respect everyone at Cape Town City. But now I’m with Maritzburg – I’m a winner, I want to win the game. It doesn’t matter about my relationship, I want to win games and my heart is blue.
“Cape Town City are not a bad team, but it’s just that they are having a rough patch – they have good players, a good coach in Benni McCarthy.”
The Team of Choice still have Phumlani Ntshangase out with a long-term injury, while Micah Lea’alafa has just returned to training after an injury and is probably not likely to feature.
In what will likely be a tight game, the scene could just be set for Jeremy Brockie to net his first goal for United.
“When Jeremy joined us, his fitness levels were not where they were needed to be, his sharpness as a striker was not where it should be,” coach Eric explained.
“Slowly but surely I have brought him through the games. I think I played him 65 minutes, took him to 75, and against Wits, 97 minutes. I was very happy with that. It means Jeremy is now fully fit and ready to rock and roll.”
Last season’s corresponding match ended in a 3-2 win for City, while it’s not since December of 2017 that Maritzburg beat the Citizens, 4-2.