Kaizer Chiefs would like to prove that reaching the Caf Champions League group stage was not a fluke by sparking a recovery in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) with a clash against basement side Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Fresh from Tuesday’s 1-0 away at Primeiro Agosto in Luanda which earned them progression into the Champions League mini-league phase for the first time in their history, Amakhosi host the Team of Choice high in confidence.
Gavin Hunt and his men have endured a difficult PSL campaign in which they have recorded just one win in eight matches.
This has left them 13th on the standings with just two points better than Maritzburg who anchor the standings.
Interestingly, Chiefs would be coming up against their former coach Ernst Middendorp who led them to an agonising near-miss of the league title last season, leading to his sacking four months ago.
|Game||Kaizer Chiefs vs Maritzburg United|
|Date||Saturday, January 9|
|Time||17:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App||SuperSport's PSL channel 202|
Squads & Team News
Kaizer Chiefs are likely to miss defender Erick Mathoho who is thought to have been given compassionate leave following the death of his father on Thursday.
It would be a major blow for Chiefs losing the centre-back who has been steely at the back amid their struggles for positive results in the PSL.
Amakhosi are however certain they will be without midfielder Philani Zulu who is suspended.
Zulu is serving his second match suspended after being red-carded against SuperSport United on December 15.
Striker Samir Nurkovic could start or at least be handed more playing minutes after making his season debut against Agosto in Angola following his recovery from injury.
It is not yet clear if captain Itumeleng Khune would be back after missing their trip to Luanda earlier this week.
Also uncertain is the availability of Willard Katsande and Lebogang Manyama who missed the Agosto match.
Earlier this week, Maritzburg United new signing Clayton Daniels revealed that coach Middendorp assured him of regular game time.
This puts the veteran defender in prime position to start his second Maritzburg game after making his debut against Bloemfontein Celtic on January 2.
He joined the Team of Choice at the end of 2020 following his release by SuperSport United and is expected to partner Rushine de Reuck, Nazeer Allie or Riyaaz Ismail at the heart of the defence.
De Reuck was not available for the Celtic match because of unclear circumstances.
Middendorp will be hoping for the availability of his top forwards Judas Moseamedi and Thabiso Kutumela who have managed two goals each in the team’s eight goals in nine league games.
Saturday’s encounter is a must-win for both sides as only two points separate them in their flirtation with relegation.
Chiefs risk finding themselves second-from-bottom if they lose while 14-placed Chippa United beat Golden Arrows on the same day.
On the other hand, Maritzburg will complicate their bid to vacate the basement if they lose to the Soweto giants.
With Amakhosi having last won a league match in October 2020, they now face a Maritzburg side that appears to have improved under Middendorp and have not lost in two straight games, including recording their first win of the season in their last game against Bloemfontein Celtic.
Chiefs could, however, draw confidence from their Champions League exploits as well as the fact that they knocked out Maritzburg from the MTN8 with a 2-1 victory three months ago.
The two sides’ last league meeting ended 2-1 in favour of the Team of Choice in February 2020 at FNB Stadium.