Martizburg United are on the cusp of history ahead of their Nedbank Cup game. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Maritzburg United went through a barren run of eight matches without a victory after succumbing to SuperSport United in the semi-finals of the MTN 8 earlier in the season and coach Fadlu Davids doesn’t want to suffer the same pain.

United will welcome Mamelodi Sundowns in a Nedbank Cup semi-final at Harry Gwala Stadium today (3pm kick-off).

The winners of this clash will go through to the final in Cape Town on May 19.

The Team of Choice are at a critical phase of their season, on the verge of clinching a place in the Caf Confederation Cup and playing in their maiden cup final.

Davids doesn’t want to suffer another semi-final defeat.

“We have to learn from the previous semi-final,” he said. “We had an advantage of an away goal (the first leg ended 1-1) and we were flying high and enjoying a good start in the league, but we lost 2-0 here at Harry Gwala.

“It is a similar situation and let’s hope the players have learned from that disappointment because that was the start of our eight-game winless run," Davids warned.

United were able to recover and take advantage of the many draws in the league.

“We have to apply ourselves accordingly and approach this cup game like a normal match. We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves; we are a young team.

“It is the big occasion for them but we must approach it like a normal game and it is 11 versus 11. We have to do the business on the pitch,” Davids explained.

Sundowns have been lethal and ruthless in front of goals, but how will Maritzburg stop them?

Davids is prepared to fight fire with fire: “You can’t mark Percy Tau because then you are giving space to (Sibusiso) Vilakazi, you are opening space for Sirino (Gaston) or Themba Zwane coming through the channels.

“It is a collective and it is a team effort. We are not a team that goes man marking. It is not only about defence, we shouldn’t have that mindset. We are at home and we should try to play our own game and try and dominate. There are going to be circumstances where we are forced to defend deep, which is normal when you are playing a team like Sundowns.

“But then we have to use spaces in our attack wisely,” Davids elaborated.

United are searching for their maiden silverware in top flight football.

“We would love to get into the cup final. Our top eight (in the PSL) is secured. We want to win as many games as possible. All our focus is on the cup and we will try to make history and make the final,” an ambitious Davids said.

Sundowns will be without their captain Hlompo Kekana, who is suspended after accumulating his fourth yellow card.

“Sundowns are not only a quality attacking side but their defensive structures are also good. They are such a well-oiled machine in all departments," Davids said.

“They still have Oupa Manyisa. The quality is still there. They’ve got depth not only on the bench but also in the stands. It is a complete team we are facing.

“If you want to call it David versus Goliath it is probably not; we are David’s 12-year-old son facing that Goliath. There’s a difference between the two squads but on the day it will just be 11 versus 11 and we will do our best,” Davids said.

Davids has huge respect for Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane.

“Sundowns are a fantastic side. They are a well-oiled machine. What Pitso has done over these five years has been phenomenal. Not only getting success but maintaining success. Other teams are struggling with Caf competitions but they manage it.

"Yes on the one hand you can say they have quality and depth but it is also the coaching, managing the situation and keeping all those stars happy. They are performing consistently at the highest level. So credit has to go to Pitso for what he has done."

Sunday Tribune

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