DURBAN - Maritzburg United will put all their effort into the last two matches to honour their fallen heroes.
On Thursday the Team of Choice buried Luyanda Ntshangase at the Mountain Rise Cemetery in Pietermaritzburg. He died last week after he was struck by lighting while playing a friendly match earlier this season.
His service was held at Maritzburg College where he matriculated in 2015. Ntshangase, 21, was in his last year of a Bachelor of Social Science degree at University of KwaZulu-Natal.
United are preparing for two of the biggest weekends in their history. Saturday they face Lamontville Golden Arrows at Harry Gwala Stadium in an Absa Premiership encounter at 3pm. They then turn their focus to the Nedbank Cup final against Free State Stars at Cape Town Stadium on May 19.
United also lost Mlondi Dlamini at the start of the season in a car accident. Two seasons back they lost Mondli Cele.
Coach Fadlu Davids dedicated these matches to honour the life of their fallen stars.
“It is a difficult time for us. It is devastating to lose two of their brothers in one season. Not too long ago it was Mlondi Cele,” Davids explained. "Everybody deals with it in a different way individually.
"We need to give players the space to be able to grieve. We are doing it in their honour in the last two games. We know that they are with us in the last two games."
United are fourth with 45 points after 29 league matches. They are chasing third spot which will qualify them for the Caf Confederation Cup.
Davids will make changes with an eye on the final.
“A derby is always a derby. Nobody wants to lose. Yes we will rest some players. We don’t want to take a risk with injuries,” Davids said.
Arrows assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi put the rivalry aside as he sympathised with the Team of Choice.
“We are all competitive in the province but we mustn’t allow our competitiveness to divide us," said Ncikazi.
"I heard coach Siyabonga Mdluli (MultiChoice Diski Challenge coach) saying he doesn’t know what is happening with all the players passing away. Sometimes God sacrifices what is good for something great. Maritzburg are in a final and they are fourth."