Maritzburg Utd optimistic ahead of Wits game in TKO

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Maritzburg United midfielder Daylon Claasen believes his team is capable of upsetting Bidvest Wits in their Telkom Knockout opener at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.

The Team of Choice has won their last two Absa Premiership games – in results that suggest they have now turned the corner, after a troubled start to 2019/20 where they failed to win any of their first five games.

Former Wits man Claasen is optimistic ahead of the game in Pietermaritzburg.

The match will hold extra significance for Claasen, who will be up against the club he joined at the start of the season. Wits are also the only club he has won a trophy with having lifted the same Telkom Knockout crown with them two years ago.

But a lack of form and injury meant his contract at the Bidvest Stadium was not renewed, with a move to KwaZulu-Natal following. It has turned out to be a smart move thus far, with the 29-year-old impressing everyone so far. But Claasen has played down his form.

Meanwhile, versatile midfielder Bandile Shandu has been speaking about the ongoing international break, which started for Maritzburg way back on October 2.

He says they have tried to make the most of the time away from the game by working on aspects of their play that head coach Eric Tinkler was not too happy about.

Shandu also admitted that the current break was a bit better than the previous one, which they went into on the back of heavy pressure that came from a lack of results. Now that they have got some wins under the belt, things are looking up, he says.

Rightly so, that ladder is what Maritzburg have done in recent games, with their successive wins lifting them from the relegation zone up to 11th on the league table.

Their opponents in the cup Wits are on the other end of the scale and presently sit second, four points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, but with two games in hand. Shandu is expecting a tough game on Friday.

This will also be the first cup game since the previous season (2017/18) that United enter without any pressure and they will be looking to rekindle the spirit of that year when they reached the Nedbank Cup.

Each time they went into cup matches last year, they were under heavy pressure in the league.

This time it will be different, though, and Shandu says they want to have the feeling of a cup run again. – Report by Thahir Asmal