Maritzburg United coach Fadlu Davids. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix
DURBAN - The roller-coaster ride Maritzburg United have endured over the past three seasons is set for an upward climb again as the club aims to consolidate a top eight spot when they face Platinum Stars at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night.

With three games to go, victory for the Midlands outfit might be enough to secure a top eight finish in the Absa Premiership, if results of the teams below them go their way over the weekend and next week. Maritzburg are seventh with 35 points, three ahead of Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows, and four in front of Orlando Pirates.

For a team that avoided relegation on the final day of last season this term has been a significant turnaround. Even if they drop points against Platinum, who are also in the running for a top eight spot, Maritzburg could do the business in their final two outings against Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic.

It would, of course, ease the process were they to scalp 11th-placed Platinum at home, where they are proving difficult to beat. The Team of Choice are chasing a fifth consecutive home win, after outclassing Baroka FC, Ajax Cape Town, Free State Stars and Cape Town City.

They would prefer to continue in that vein and make the most of home advantage, rather than leave matters to chance.

A top eight spot would be a fitting finish to this campaign for interim coach Fadlu Davids. He is in his third spell as interim head coach since last season’s relegation scare. He wasn’t there when they enjoyed the high point of the roller-coaster ride the previous season, achieving their first top eight finish.

Although log leaders Bid- vest Wits out-gunned the Midlands men 1-0 in Joburg at the weekend, they had their fair chances to score, aided by the second half substitutes Evans Rusike and Deolin Mekoa.

Davids kicked off the week on a bright note when he was named Coach of the Month for April. If he maintains their home form he would make his mark as the second coach to qualify Maritzburg to a top half finish, and enhance his chances of being named as head coach next season.

The First Division also reaches a crunch phase on Wednesday. The title was wrapped up when Thanda Royal Zulu secured promotion last week.

Royal Eagles and AmaZulu, sitting fourth and fifth respectively, are in with decent shouts of reaching the play-off. In this penultimate round, Usuthu host Jomo Cosmos and Eagles welcome Mbombela United to Clermont.

The Mercury

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