Martizburg plan to press home the advantage

2014-08-26 00:00

MARITZBURG United must make full use of their home advantage when they host Chippa United tonight.

This is the plan assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi, who wants the Team of Choice to win their Premiership meeting at the Harry Gwala Stadium.

Steve Komphela’s side won their only match at the venue to date, a 2-1 victory over Polokwane City, 13 days ago. However, they have since suffered a first loss of the campaign when they went down 1-0 at Bidvest Wits in the middle of last week, leaving their record after three games at 1-1-1 (win-draw-loss) — the draw coming away at champions Mamelodi Sundowns in their first game.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on winning at home this season and it’s what we’ll be going out to do against Chippa,” Ncikazi said ahead of the game.

The solid, but unspectacular, start has left Maritzburg in seventh position and they will be hoping to consolidate that position.

The Chilli Boys, who were National First Division (NFD) champions last year, started the league well with victory in their first match against Platinum Stars, but their bubble has burst since then as losses to SuperSport United and University of Pretoria have followed.

However, their ambitious owner Chippa Mpengesi, partly responsible for destabalising United during the closed season during his rigorous pursual of Komphela, has recruited wisely by signing the likes of Thamsanqa Sangweni and Fatau Dauda. And Ncikazi believes they will be a threat in Pietermaritzburg.

“Chippa will be tough and also a little difficult to predict because we’re not sure the status of their foreigners,” he said. “But we hope to have the better of them.”

United have been boosted by news that all their foreign players are available for the first time this season after work permit issues prevented them from playing earlier in the campaign.

The four are Zimbabwean pair Khumbulani Banda and Terrence Mandaza as well as Ghanaian duo John Paintsil and Mike Mohammed.

“We obviously have been boosted now with the four foreigners that now have received their permits and are available, so they’ll be good additions to what we had before,” Ncikazi added.

However, on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Sibusiso Kumalo is still lacking match fitness and will miss out, while striker Mohau Mokate serves the second of a three-match red card suspension after his red card against Polokwane.

Another forward Deolin Mekoa is doubtful. Chippa, currently ninth on the log, will be without Bheki Nzunga (ankle), James Okwuosa (fitness) and the suspended Christopher Komane.

But captain Andile Mbenyane is expected to recover from a knock he took to the foot against University of Pretoria last week.

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