Rejuvenated ‘Team of Choice’ prepare to host struggling Chippa

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Veteran defender Clayton Daniels of Maritzburg United.
Veteran defender Clayton Daniels of Maritzburg United.
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In addition to their improved performance level, Maritzburg Uni­ted won’t have major manpower issues when they resume their DStv Premiership campaign against Chippa United on home soil this week.

The rejuvenated Team of Choice host their relegation rivals from the Eastern Cape at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday and visit fourth-placed Orlando Pirates next Wednesday.

Read more: Pressure has eased, United bosses now look forward to return of the fans

They are protecting a four-game unbeaten run and coach Ernst Middendorp’s selection pool will have at least one extra man, plus there are no new sus­pensions in their camp, according to the club.

Veteran defender Clayton Daniels will be available again after serving a two-game suspension, while fellow defenders Riyaaz Ismail and Kwanda Mngonyama will have their fitness evaluated later in the week.

Daniels had to sit out his 14th-placed team’s confidence-enhancing victory over TS Galaxy in Nelspruit a fortnight ago, as well as their draw with unstable Kaizer Chiefs just before that.

Read more: Maritzburg United on the road to recovery after 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs

Middendorp’s side were the dominant outfit in both those games, and they also have Serbian defender Dusan Stevic looking to make his debut for the club this week.

The right-footed import travelled to the clash with Galaxy after overcoming an injury, but was not used.

Middendorp gave his much-improved side a couple of days off, but they return on Tuesday to step up their preparations for the visit by Chippa.

They trail them by goal difference in the standings, while sitting one point clear of Tshakhuma and four ahead of basement-dwelling Black Leopards.

Read more: ‘Every match is like a cup final for us’, says Maritzburg midfielder Claasen

But Maritzburg and Tshakhuma have a game in hand over the other two relegation-threatened sides, as the teams generally enter the last-third of the 30-game season this week.

In terms of the form guide for league matters, Chippa are in much worse shape than Maritzburg, with no wins in their last seven games, despite them having home advantage for many of those.

While they enjoyed a few Cup victories in the period, their league position has become a big bother in terms of the bottom three sides getting opportunities to get closer to them on points.

Maritzburg have certainly taken the room available to them in recent weeks.

DStv PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES

Saturday

Swallows v Arrows — 3 pm

Maritzburg v Chippa — 5 pm

CT City v Baroka — 5 pm

Sunday

Leopards v AmaZulu — 3 pm

Celtic v TS Galaxy — 3 pm

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