Struggling Cape Town City ready for clash against a wounded Maritzburg United
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CAPE TOWN – Maritzburg United United let a virtual "six-point swing" slip through their grasp over the weekend in a 1-0 defeat to Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Had Ernst Middendorp's side managed to claim the three points on offer, it would have lifted the KwaZulu-Natal side to 31 points and above Kaizer Chiefs into 10th place on the Dstv Premiership table. TTM would have stayed on 25 points.
Instead, Maritzburg went down to their fellow league strugglers and were dragged back into the relegation scrap and are now level with the Limpopo side on 28 points – just three above the relegation zone.
It stands to reason that Middendorp was fuming after the defeat at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, labeling his team's performance as "nonsense" and "unacceptable".
"We conceded a goal with one against four in the centre. I cannot accept this, and it makes me angry. We have to learn and improve going forward," Middendorp added.
The Team of Choice will certainly have been given a rollicking in the dressing-room post match and given strict instructions to raise their performance in their next match against Cape Town City on Wednesday.
City are comfortably placed in seventh place, but face their own battle to secure a top eight finish.
Coupled with their off-field problems recently that saw head coach Jan Olde Riekerink be placed on "administrative leave" and goalkeeper coach Sjoerd Woudenberg depart the Citizens, the home team could be vulnerable right now.
Left-back Terrence Mashego has, however, quickly dispelled any notion that City are not committed to finishing off the season on a strong note and they are fully aware that they are in for a bun fight against a Maritzburg team that will be still be hurting from their last defeat.
"The training sessions are going very well. We have recovered from the travel and the game against Celtic. The guys are mentally and physically prepared. Judging by the mood in the camp you can tell that everyone is ready. We are playing Maritzburg. It's our home game. We need to dominate. We need to collect maximum points to secure our place in the top eight," Mashego said.
"Maritzburg are trying to save themselves from relegation. We know it's going to be a tough game and we need to fight if we want maximum points."
Meanwhile, Stellenbosch FC's fight for survival continues in earnest on Tuesday when they face "draw kings" Moroka Swallows at the Dobsonville Stadium.
Swallows have lost one game all season and have played to a 1-1 stalemate in their last five matches leaving the Dube Birds in a very healthy fifth place on the table.
Stellenbosch, however, are throat-deep in the relegation scramble with the Winelands outfit just a point above 15th-placed Chippa United.
Coach Steve Barker knows it's squeeky bum time now with just three games remaining, and they will need to gain at least six out of the possible nine points to avoid the drop zone.
"Obviously the position we are in its very precarious so we are very mindful of the position we are in and every time we don't get a positive result, we have to work even harder next time," Barker said.
"Our recent performances have been good, but we need to turn those performances into results. It a hugely important game for us as a club and we know we have to go there and get maximum points."