It is not only the unsettled men of Maritzburg United but also those at Kaizer Chiefs who will be launching “Operation Bounce Back” as part of the DStv Premiership’s return this weekend.
The modest Midlands outfit and the Soweto giants opened the 2020/21 domestic football circus against each other on October 18, with Chiefs winning that duel 2-1 in the MTN8 quarter-finals at FNB Stadium, but both have since experienced troubled times. Their coaches, officials and fans have had sleepless nights by their own admission.
Those unwanted headaches have been highlighted by only one player from the two teams combined being able to make the latest Bafana Bafana line-up from home-based selections against Sao Tome in the Afcon qualifying series in Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates dominated in that respect and also appear to be title favourites in the Premiership this season.
Moreover, Bucs skipper Thulani Hlatswayo and fellow selected club-mates were able to march into the Bafana camp with massive smiles after making Chiefs look very ordinary in the MTN8 semifinals over two legs prior to that.
Arrows v Chiefs — 3.30 pm
Stellenbosch v Chippa — 3.30 pm
Leopards v Maritzburg — 3.30 pm
Pirates v SuperSport — 6 pm
Swallows v TS Galaxy — 8.15 pm
There was quite the opposite feeling in the Maritzburg and Amakhosi camps after their recent pains lingered.
However, Eric Tinkler at Maritzburg and Gavin Hunt at Chiefs will look for a revival tomorrow as their men visit Black Leopards and Golden Arrows respectively. Tinkler is expected to grant a debut to his recently-signed Zambian goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange and there could also be a first run-out for Algerian defender Fares Hachi in what is Matchday 4 of the 30-game league programme in Thohoyandou.
Leopards have made some signings of their own and the presence of a new coach there in the form of Dylan Kerr might also make life a bit more difficult for Tinkler’s side in terms of the home players wanting to impress their latest squad boss.
At Chiefs, Hunt has Erick Mathoho suspended and fellow defender Reeve Frosler injured for the unpredictable clash with Mandla Ncikazi’s Arrows on the coast, but it is also up front where the experienced coach has to work some magic because his team have battled to find the net in the majority of their assignments this season so far.
Elsewhere, Pirates at home to SuperSport United in another game tomorrow is arguably the highlight of the programme, while revamped Durban outfit AmaZulu get tested by defending champions Sundowns in another interesting affair in Pretoria on Sunday.
Premiership newcomers Moroka Swallows and TS Galaxy will get a better idea of each other’s Premiership situation when they meet at Dobsonville tomorrow, having been rivals in the lower league last season. Both sides have done well not to lose so far.
The other rookies in the division, Tshakuma, face unbeaten Baroka in a Limpopo derby on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the GladAfrica Championship will kick off next Friday.
HOW THEY STAND