Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler says his analysis of Kaizer Chiefs shows a vastly different team compared to last season.

He was speaking ahead of their big Telkom Knockout semi-final showdown at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday, with the Team of Choice mentor warning that they have to guard against Amakhosi’s ariel threat.

Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic has already been made out to be signing of the season by the analysts and he has brought a different dynamic to the Soweto giants, according to Tinkler.

But the United boss hopes to capitalise on some of the enforced changes that Chiefs have to make for the game.

Tinkler also feels that Chiefs will be the overwhelming favourites for the game. After all, they are part of the big three in South African football and also currently sit 10 points clear at the top of the Absa Premiership table.

United, on the other hand, are one of the smaller clubs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), but the former Bafana Bafana midfielder says they should not hold any fears for Chiefs.

Much has been made in the media about the suspensions that Chiefs have for the game with Daniel Akpeyi, Willard Katsande and Eric Mathoho all ruled out.

There are also some players away with South Africa Under-23s, meaning Chiefs boss Ernst Middendorp does have a few selection headaches. Mixed signals have been sent out from the Chiefs camp over who will replace Akpeyi, with reports suggesting that Itumeleng Khune was fit and could star ahead of Bruce Bvuma. Either way, Tinkler feels the Soweto side have enough cover to cope.

For Maritzburg, they have Kwanda Mngonyama suspended for the game, while Phumlani Ntshangase is a long-term absentee.

Good news for United is that Siyanda Xulu has been passed fit, while Gabriel Nyoni also pulled through training this week. Tinkler admits he faces some tough choices before finalising his matchday 18.

Report by Thahir Asmal