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Punching bags Maritzburg next on Downs menu

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Maritzburg United players
Maritzburg United players

by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – IF current form and the teams’ subsequent placing of the DStv Premiership log standings are anything to go by, the fixture between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United is the mismatch of the season thus far.

However, Sundowns coach, Manqoba Mngqithi, is wary of complacency creeping into his table-topping Downs players ahead of the clash against the bottom-placed Team of Choice at the Harry Gwala Stadium in the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

The two teams, one a perennial champion and the other perpetual relegation candidates, are going through typical form.

The reigning champions are in rampant goal scoring form and Maritzburg are in the throes of a crisis that sees them with no points five games into the season and having fired their coach, Eric Tinkler.

As the two teams enjoy contrasting fortunes, it seems a foregone conclusion Sundowns will secure maximum points to stretch their lead atop the premier division and add to Maritzburg’s owes but Mngqithi has urged his players to guard against complacency.

“The next assignment is against Maritzburg. We must give it all the attention it deserves,” he said.

“It is very important for us to keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and stay modest, know what we are capable of but not become overconfident because there are still too many games,” the Sundowns mentor said.

The Brazilians have dropped only two points from a possible 15 and have scored the highest number of goals (12) in the league.

Coming up against a team that has shipped in the highest number of goals (9), their forwards must be licking their lips.

Top goal scorer, Themba Zwane, has already scored five goals, two more than Maritzburg, who remain the only team without victory.

Last season’s joint top marksman, Namibian Peter Shalulile is on three, while Kermit Erasmus is on two.

Erasmus and Shalulile, at Highlands Park and Cape Town City last season, have thus proven astute signings.

Mngqithi welcomed the rampancy of the trio.

Erasmus, Shalulile and Zwane were again on target in Downs’ last outing against Stellenbosch. The match at Loftus Versfield ended 3-0.

Maritzburg United succumbed to a routine 1-2 defeat at home to SuperSport United at Harry Gwala Stadium.

“One key trait I like is that they have shared these goals,” Mngqithi said of his forwards.

“They have provided assists for each other, which shows brotherhood and does not indicate elements of selfishness.”

Keletso Makgalwa and Promise Mkhuma are among those eager to impress when the opportunity arises.

– CAJ News