Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler insists his players are mentally prepared for the Premier Soccer League’s promotion/relegation play-offs as they get ready to welcome Royal Eagles to the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday.
The clash in Pietermaritzburg has further spice to it considering it is a KwaZulu-Natal derby, with the Team of Choice needing to start well if they are to retain hope of staying in the Absa Premiership. Tinkler believes they are ready for the challenge.
The Eagles have already begun their campaign after they won their opening game against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila with a priceless 1-0 win in Durban on Wednesday.
In a mini-league where each side plays only four matches, a win holds extra significance. History has also favoured the teams from the National First Division in this taxing competition that comes at the end of a taxing season, both mentally and physically, for the players.
Tinkler acknowledges that the record books are against them, but says they will not stop believing.
Maritzburg have done wonders just to be in the play-offs. Apart from spending nearly two thirds of the 2018/19 season in the automatic relegation zone, they looked doomed a week ago.
But two wins and a draw from their last three matches saw them pip Free State Stars on goal difference. Tinkler reckons the home team’s supporters will have another big role to play on Sunday.
Tinkler also reported a clean bill of health for his side ahead of the game. Brian Onyango, who missed the last game, is expected to be fit. But the coach confirmed he should be available. – Report by Thahir Asmal