Tuks, Maritzburg targeting cup glory
The University of Pretoria and Maritzburg United will look to get over their recent poor form when they meet in the Last 32 of the Nedbank Cup at Tuks Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 8:15pm.
While the Team of Choice remain in a good position on the league table, they are without a win in their last seven matches and will be looking at this cup fixture to bring back the spark they showed at the start of the season.
Ernst Middendorp’s side will go into this clash looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 1-0 league loss to Free State Stars, and captain Shu-aib Walters admits that he is hoping the excitement of cup competitions will inspire his side.
“The Nedbank Cup is a good point for us to turn our season around,’ said Walters. “I think we have been a little bit unlucky, even against Free State Stars; a fair result would’ve been a draw.
“However, the guys are still motivated and they are fighting, which is good for us, and we’re definitely looking to get a positive result.”
The two sides have already met twice in the league this season, with both matches ending in 1-1 draws, but Walters says he is expecting a more open game this time around.
“Cup games are different from league games because there has to be a winner at the end of the day,” he said. “So even if both teams are cautious in the beginning the game does tend to open up at is progresses.
“I think both teams will go with more direct approaches but in cup games the team that wants it the most on the day wins it; we just have to be in good shape physically and mentally to last for 90 minutes and more if required.”
Maritzburg United have reached the quarterfinals of the tournament in 2009 and 2012, but AmaTuks came even closer to winning it in 2009 as they eliminated number of top teams before losing to Moroka Swallows in the final.
Like United, they go into this game looking to return to winning ways having failed to register a victory in their last four matches, the latest being a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Moroka Swallows.
However, defender Junior Sibande believes they have been improving with each game since the break and backs his side to rise to the occasion on Saturday.
“The first game of the second rounds was difficult for us but at least in the second game we managed to come back to get a draw,” said Sibande. “We’re pushing hard but the most important thing is we are improving with every game we play.
“The game against Maritzburg is very important for us because we want to challenge for silverware and the Nedbank Cup is another chance for us to compete for something big.
“United have not been doing well in the league recently but they are a quality side and they have shown that earlier in the season. We’ll prepare for a strong Maritzburg United team and hopefully we’ll take our chances and go through to the next round.”