Maritzburg United's Bevan Fransman and Siphesihle Ndlovu celebrate a goal during a PSL match. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

DURBAN - For a change two KwaZulu-Natal sides will compete in the season-opening MTN8 cup competition when Golden Arrows visit defending champions Bidvest Wits on Friday night and Maritzburg United trek to Pretoria for a Sunday afternoon date with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Although no strangers to the event - Arrows won it in 2009 and Maritzburg featured in it the previous season - they seldom qualify for it and so would aim to make the most of the opportunity to showcase their brand to potential sponsors.

“As a club this tournament is a platform for us to be recognised, and to show that we are not here to fight a relegation scrap every season,” said Maritzburg chairman Farook Kadodia.

“Being at this level is a big difference to being in the relegation zone and finishing 10th. The competition speaks volumes, with a winner-takes-all prize (R8-million), which is a great incentive.

"At the same time the value of our club’s assets and the profile of the team goes higher,” added Kadodia.

The last time they appeared in this cup Maritzburg avoided relegation on the final day of the season.

Since then two coaches have parted with the Midlands club, although in Fadlu Davids there’s continuity after the former assistant coach was appointed full-time head coach for his first senior coaching post.

The former club captain and striker has a stable foundation to build on, although Maritzburg are still searching for a replacement for playmaker Kurt Lentjies who left to join Chippa United.

The club is set to release Zimbabwean midfielder Blessing Moyo to create space for a foreign playmaker, said Kadodia.

Arrows, who squeaked into the competition by finishing eighth last term, enjoy better continuity than their neighbours.

Coach Clinton Larsen continues in his role with a squad that has not lost any key figures. Instead they managed to retain Zimbabwean pair, attacking midfielder Kudakwashe Mahachi and striker Knox Mutizwa.

The Mercury

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