DURBAN – One unbeaten run is going to come to an end. That is the situation ahead of Sunday’s Telkom Knockout semi-final clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzburg United at the Mbombela Stadium.
Both sides are in red-hot form going into the encounter.
Chiefs haven’t tasted defeat in their last eight matches across all competitions and have been the dominant force this season. Polokwane City are the only team to inflict defeat on Amakhosi, Rise and Shine having gotten the better of Amakhosi in an Absa Premiership game at the FNB Stadium on September 14.
Since then, Amakhosi have been unstoppable. They have notched up victories against AmaZulu, Baroka FC, Golden Arrows, Cape Town City, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates (twice, in the league and Telkom Knockout).
Amakhosi will be out to keep that record intact. Victory will get them into the final that will be contested at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on December 14.
Chiefs have to get the better of Maritzburg without the services of suspended trio Daniel Akpeyi, Eric Mathoho and Willard Katsande.
Granted, they have depth, but coach Ernst Middendorp’s team are sure to feel their absence, particularly against opposition who will go into the clash high on confidence.
The Team of Choice haven’t suffered a loss in their past seven games. Sundowns were the last side to enjoy success against Maritzburg back on September 21.
In the last seven games, the team from KwaZulu-Natal’s capital have amassed five victories – against Chippa United, Baroka FC, Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City and Highlands Park – and had two draws, against Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic).
Maritzburg are now unbeaten in two months but they are coming up against another side that is unbeaten in the last two months in Amakhosi.
Maritzburg will be also without Kwanda Mngonyama, who is still serving a suspension. Mngonyama has been a vital cog for the Team of Choice in the heart of defence and his presence will be missed. He is effective aerially and Amakhosi have proven to be dangerous in the air and it will be interesting to see how Eric Tinkler makes up for the defender’s absence.
Maritzburg will be pinning their hopes on the likes of Siyanda Xulu, Pogiso Senoka and Rushine De Ruck to nullify the potent attack of Amakhosi.
The trio of Khama Billiat, Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro has been a menace so far. They are key to Amakhosi’s early good start. The Team of Choice have to keep a close eye on them if they are to advance in to the final and stretch their unbeaten run.
This should be a humdinger.