JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Dumisani Zuma believes finishing the first half of the season on a high note will give the club a boost going into the gruelling first two months of 2020.
Following five months of intense action, the curtain will come down on the first half of the 2019/20 domestic season this weekend for the Christmas recess.
Chiefs will be the happiest of the 16 teams as they sit at the summit of the log with 34 points, nine ahead of defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in second spot.
And that’s why coach Ernst Middendorp’s men will be hoping to extend their lead at the top and close out the year with a bang when they travel to Pietermaritzburg to face Maritzburg United on Sunday (3.30pm kick-off).
Get three points there and Chiefs will be well ahead of Sundowns and SuperSport United going into January and February, when they’ll play nine matches.
“A win against Maritzburg will give us a huge morale boost going into the new year. We know how tough it is in January and February, and that’s why we need all the confidence that we can get going into those months,” Zuma said.
However, Chiefs would be naïve to think they’ll go to KwaZulu-Natal and easily collect all three points from the Team of Choice.
Coach Eric Tinkler’s men have already put one past Chiefs this season after pulling off a surprise 2-1 victory in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout.
However, Maritzburg aspirations of claiming the club’s first trophy were ended by a 2-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns in the final last Saturday.
And that’s why Zuma believes they’ll have to up their game if they are going beat a wounded Maritzburg side.
“It will be a tough game, especially after they eliminated us from the cup. But we’ve shown in our last game (against Bloemfontein Celtic) that we can make it hard for ourselves if we are over-confident,” Zuma said.
“We’ll go Maritzburg and they’ll have all the support, but we need to change things around because we need the win.”
Chiefs’ impressive performances has been a marvel to watch this season, especially the integration of the youngsters with the seasoned campaigners.
Zuma, 24, has made a notable contribution to the team in their bid to win the league title, scoring three goals and registering an assist in 12 matches.
And having been a substitute in most of those matches, Zuma says he’s happy with any approach the coach brings on match-day.
“For me it’s fine to start or not as long as I help and contribute to the team. Having started from the bench mostly, maybe that’s a working formula for the coach. So I can’t really take it to heart,” he said.
Pretoria giants Sundowns and SuperSport bossed the first half of the season as they scooped the Telkom Knockout and MTN8 trophies respectively.
However, Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp and his troops enjoyed the lion’s share of success in the league via the monthly and quarterly rewards after winning the Coach of the Month awards three times in a row as well as the Q1-Innovation.