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Stellenbosch FC looking to break Maritzburg United’s stranglehold

Deano van Rooyen of Stellenbosch FC celebrates scoring the opening goal as Ashley du Preez of Stellenbosch FC congratulates his teammate during the DStv Premiership match against Kaizer Chiefs at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on 23 April 2022. Picture: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Deano van Rooyen of Stellenbosch FC celebrates scoring the opening goal as Ashley du Preez of Stellenbosch FC congratulates his teammate during the DStv Premiership match against Kaizer Chiefs at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on 23 April 2022. Picture: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published May 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Stellenbosch FC will be up against history when they host giant-killers Maritzburg United in a DStv Premiership match at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday (start 5pm).

The history books show that in previous meetings Stellenbosch have never defeated Maritzburg who will arrive in the Mother City on a high after their shock 1-0 win over KZN rivals Royal AM (second on the log) in a midweek clash. It was Maritzburg's second big result after they also defeated champions Mamelodi Sundowns a few weeks earlier.

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In six previous meetings, Maritzburg have two wins and four draws and their German coach Ernst Middendorp will be looking to maintain that dominance. Maritzburg's two wins were home and away.

Stellenbosch also brings form into this clash and are undefeated in their last two outings. In their midweek match, they held hosts SuperSport United to a goalless draw.

ALSO READ: 3 key match-ups that can light up Kaizer Chiefs-Mamelodi Sundowns clash

According to Steve Barker, the Stellenbosch coach, the side was in excellent form against SuperSport and felt his charges were unlucky not to come away with a win.

"I am disappointed that we only walked away with a point. I thought we were the better side throughout the game," said Barker.

"We created enough opportunities to win the game. I thought it was a very accomplished performance from the boys.

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"We moved the ball well, and we found pockets of spaces. We also got in behind them and created some good chances. We were really good today."

Maritzburg have moved clear of the relegation zone and Middendorp says the team can breathe easier now. He is looking for Maritzburg to maintain the form that earned them a win over Royal AM.

"It was our second last home game, we had to win and collect the points going into the next two away games. We are aware what is at stake," said Middendorp.

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"If we are prepared to suffer together and support each other and also show the team effort we showed against Royal AM, then can we collect the points.

"The points from a win will ensure that we finish the season comfortably on the log."

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Argentinian Júnior Mendieta will lead the Stellenbosch attack and he has done an outstanding job as the team's playmaker with his creativity in his assist plays.

He has been a problem for opposing defences since he has an eye for spotting chinks in the rearguard's armour. Hence his feeds in the opposition goalmouth can pose problems.

Mendieta has worked well with striker Ashley du Preez who has done well with his runs when his team is in transition mode. His speed on the ball has been hard to contain and he is quite capable of causing defences to lose their shape. He is the side's leading goalscorer with seven strikes, but he has not been on target in the last three outings.

For Maritzburg, midfielder Keagan Ritchie usually works his socks off and has shone in his role as a defensive midfielder. He is Maritzburg's dead-ball specialist and one of his corner kicks against Royal AM led to the team's match-winning goal.

One player who combined well with Ritchie is Zambian international Friday Samu who is emerging as one of the best strikers in the Premiership. He has scored in his last four outings and he will be a marked man in Stellenbosch.

Later on in the Mother City, Cape Town City, who are riding the crest of a wave will host lowly TS Galaxy at the Cape Town Stadium (start 7.30pm).

After Royal AM's shock midweek defeat, City's chances of securing a season-ending Premiership runners-up slot are glowing bright and the team will want to keep that hope alive.

Galaxy have been unpredictable this season and in their last outing, they defeated Orlando Pirates against all odds considering they are a team hovering on the verges of the relegation zone.

No one would have foreseen City's tremendous form as the season winds down. Over the last few rounds City have the best record and are unbeaten in the previous 10 league games.

Elsewhere, Chippa United will host relegation-haunted Baroka FC at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (start 3pm). Chippa have proved a steady outfit under interim coach Kurt Lentjies and are on a three-match undefeated streak.

At the Peter Mokaba Stadium, the visiting Golden Arrows will be looking to return to winning ways after they were shocked by rock-bottom side Baroka in a midweek clash. They are up against Marumo Gallants, the Nedbank Cup finalists (3pm start).

At the Moses Mabhida Stadium, hosts AmaZulu play Sekhukhune United who have been battling to find the net in recent outings (start 5pm). As a result, the 10th-placed Sekhukhune are on a five-match winless streak.

The seventh-placed AmaZulu would want to hold on to their top-eight slot and a win will ensure they will be well-placed in that zone when the season ends later this month.

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