The KwaZulu-Natal sides are on the fringes of finishing in the elite section of the league standings, with Arrows in seventh and Maritzburg positioned eighth ahead of round 25. Abafana Bes'thendeare in Limpopo for a date with Polokwane City, and the Team of Choice traveled to Chippa United in PE.
Arrows had two days to prepare for this trip, following their Nedbank Cup quarter-final victory over Platinum Stars on Saturday.
Getting the squad to refocus on the league for this six-pointer - City are ahead of Arrows on goal difference - would have been the main challenge for Arrows coach Clinton Larsen. With Arrows draw to face Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup semi final draw on Monday, it would have been difficult for the Arrows contingent not to imagine their prospects of knockout glory where the winning club banks R7 million.
However, if they can focus on Polokwane, then Arrows have a fair shot at banking at least a point tonight. One loss - to high-riding Bidvest Wits - marks Arrows’ only loss in six league and cup assignments, which is decent form away to a team that has won a meagre four league games at home.
The other priority is fitness, said Larsen, especially with another league game against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns to follow three days later.
“We have to work hard on our recovery because it’s a tight schedule, and we don’t have the luxury of depth and experience,” said Larsen after the weekend’s cup triumph where midfielder Musa Bilankulu’s headed goal made the difference.
Arrows have defender Lehlohonolo Nonyane back from injury, while others such as Nkanyiso Cele, Lerato Lamola and Chiukepo Msowoya could be called in to freshen the team.
They meet a Polokwane outfit that registered their first league win of the year last week when they edged Platinum 1-0. Until then the league’s draw specialists - they have 13 stalemates - hadn’t won in 10 league matches.
The sides drew 3-3 in the first round. If Jabu Maluleke and Rodney Ramagalela are on form for the coachless home unit then this could be a similar goal feast. If Arrows slip up then Maritzburg have a strong chance of overtaking them. The Midlands men lost their last five away games in all competitions, and scored twice in that run, but face a Chippa crew who are winless in nine league assignments.
The Chilli Boys have lost a bit of their early season spiciness, and have dropped to 12th in the table, and go into the game possibly distracted by the Nedbank Cup.
They beat Jomo Cosmos 1-0 in the quarters at the weekend, but having had more time to prepare, the Team of Choice should be fresher. They also have Belgian striker Andrea Fileccia fully match fit after he recently made several cameo appearances following a lengthy injury.
“We need one more point to get our 30, and then we can look at setting our next target,” said Maritzburg interim coach Fadlu Davids guardedly. “We have time to prepare and get the structure right in order to be able to handle them.”