Maritzburg United will be aiming for a winning Absa Premiership start on home territory when they welcome Highlands Park to the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night (kick-off at 20:00).

The Team of Choice took more than half a season to win their first game in Pietermaritzburg last term, the consequence of which saw them nearly relegated.

This time around both the coaches and players want to make sure they turn their home ground into a fortress and boss Eric Tinkler and captain Nazeer Allie know that starting well is key. The coach is targeting at least 10 wins in front of their fans.

The Team of Choice, who lost their opening match of 2019/20 away at Lamontville Golden Arrows on Sunday, waited until February for their first win in the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

It turned out to be one of four at one of the well-attended venues in the country. Captain Allie says they cannot afford to wait so long for their first win at home this time around as he looked ahead to the clash with the Lions of the North.

Allie says they have prepared well for the game despite losing their opener 1-0 in Clermont a few days ago.

The defeat may have left them pointless, but there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Team of Choice, like the way new signings Daylon Claasen and Gabriel Nyoni slotted in. Other new arrivals like Thamsanqa Sangweni and Kwanda Mngonyama could be brought into the mix this week.

However, foreign pair Dan Morgan and Micah Lea’alafa are likely to miss out as they finalise their work permits. Allie says they are looking forward to the game.

While Maritzburg were edged out in a tense affair by their rivals last week, Highlands suffered late defeat in a thrilling 3-2 encounter against Kaizer Chiefs in Tembisa.

Owen da Gama’s men were one of the teams of the season last year when they finished seventh and Allie warned that they faced a tough task to win all the points. – Report by Thahir Asmal