Maritzburg United and fellow KwaZulu-Natal sides will generally be desperate to summon all their powers and make the most of the remainder of the domestic football season.
In terms of pre-season hopes, Maritzburg, Golden Arrows and AmaZulu are all well off the pace that has been set by powerful defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the DStv Premiership for 2021/22.
Only the “glamour army” of Royal AM can claim to have had a very satisfactory campaign to date.
In contrast to Sundowns’ tally of 48 points from 21 outings so far in the 30-game league season, Maritzburg sit in a troubled 12th spot with 18 points from 19 assignments — just three points above the relegation zone. Arrows occupy 10th place with 22 points from 18 matches, while AmaZulu lie in seventh position with 28 points from 21 outings.
Royal AM, or RAM for short, are much better off in third spot with 30 points from 19 assignments, plus they made some decent signings recently to boost their campaign.
As for the five-match form guide, which totals 15 points, Maritzburg and Arrows have collected just four points, while AmaZulu and have collected eight. Further points will be shed by Maritzburg or Arrows tonight because they are playing each other at Harry Gwala Stadium.
However, Team of Choice stars Friday Samu and Alfred Ndengane say that their team will be trying extremely hard not to come off second-best to Arrows for the second time this season, having lost the reverse fixture 2-1 in Durban on the opening day of the Premiership season on August 21.
“We are working very hard in training because we need these three points,” said 26-year-old Samu, who helped his team beat SuperSport United 2-1 at home last week to end a long winless run.
Added 35-year-old defender Ndengane: “Our preparations have been good and we will be ready for Arrows in this provincial derby. They beat us in the first round, but they did not get a win in their last two league matches against Cape Town City (0-1) and Orlando Pirates (0-0), so that will make them more determined to beat us.”
Maritzburg have midfielder Travis Graham and defender Keegan Ritchie are out suspended, while Arrows have midfielder Thabani Zuke banned at present.
Meanwhile, AmaZulu don’t have a Premiership assignment this weekend because they host Algerian side Entente Sportive Sétifienne, commonly referred to as ES Sétif or ESS for short, in the third round-robin match of the Caf Champions League in Durban on Friday evening.
Playing on dual fronts appears to have been a big task for Benni McCarthy’s side, considering they have won only five of their Premiership matches and drawn 13.
They will need a major push in the rest of the domestic campaign to get close to the stunning second-place finish they registered in the Premiership last season, which brought them continental inter-club football, to boot.
After Friday’s Champions League commitment, McCarthy’s men will prepare to face Stellenbosch at home and SuperSport United away in the Premiership next week.
SuperSport will first host John Maduka’s high-flying Royal AM in Pretoria on Sunday.
Maritzburg Utd v Golden Arrows 7.30 pm
Chippa Utd v Marumo Gallants 3.30 pm
Sekhukhune Utd v Swallows 5.30 pm
Baroka v Kaizer Chiefs 7.30 pm
SuperSport Utd v Royal AM 3.30 pm
AmaZulu v ES Sétif 6pm
Al Ahly v Mamelodi Sundowns 9 pm