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Reports & Previews

Absa Premiership preview: Bidvest Wits v Maritzburg United

The team sitting pretty at the top of the Absa Premiership table take on the team languishing at the bottom when Bidvest Wits host Maritzburg United on Friday night.
 
The two sides could hardly have had more contrasting seasons to date, with Wits outperforming some of their more illustrious rivals to lead the way in the race for the title, while Maritzburg were just forced to sack their second coach of the season after he failed to reverse their poor run of form.
 
Muhsin Ertugral was brought in six weeks ago to try and turn things around at the Team of Choice, but the former Kaizer Chiefs boss proved unable to do so, leaving the KZN outfit mired at the bottom of the log.
 
Ertugral's demise has paved the way for the entrance of former Orlando Pirates, Cape Town City and Supersport United coach Eric Tinkler, who faces the unenviable task of trying to rescue a club that has managed just 11 points and one victory from 18 games so far.
 
United chairman Farook Kadodia is confident Tinkler has the right plan to carry the team forward, and the former Bafana Bafana star's job starts in earnest on Friday night with his first game in charge.
 
"He (Eric) understands very well the approach that is needed and he has a strategy of how to get the club out of relegation trouble,” Kadodia told Maritzburg's website.
 
“I firmly believe that after my long day yesterday speaking to the team and the technical staff, that their full support will be behind Eric. This is what you want, because you can bring a new coach in but if the team is not behind him, then obviously you have challenges.
 
“But from what Eric has told me, he knows what it will take to bring the club out of the current situation.”
 
Facing Wits first up will be a tough ask for Tinkler and co, although they may take some heart from the fact that the Clever Boys seem to have hit a bit of a rough patch after following up a loss to Chiefs earlier this month with a 3-3 draw against Polokwane.
 
While a loss and a draw is hardly a cause for panic, Maritzburg will be buoyed by the knowledge that the table-toppers might not be firing on all cylinders at present.
 
Maritzburg will also look to the meeting between these two teams earlier in the season, which ended in a goalless draw, as a sign that they do not need to fear their opponents. 
 
That match did not take place at Wits' home stadium, however, and things don't look quite so rosy for the Team of Choice when home advantage is taken into account. The Clever Boys have won all five of their previous encounters against Maritzburg at the Bidvest Stadium, a clear indication of the mammoth task awaiting the visitors on Friday night.