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Chiefs target big finish

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“A win against Maritzburg will give us a huge morale boost going into the new year. We know how tough it is in January and February, and that’s why we need all the confidence that we can get going into those months”

Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Dumisani Zuma (pictured) believes finishing the first half of the season on a high note will give the club a boost going into the gruelling first two months of 2020.

Following five months of intense action, the curtain will come down on the first half of 2019/20 domestic season this weekend for the Christmas recess. Chiefs will be the happiest side of the 16 teams they sit on the summit of the log with 34 points, nine ahead of defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in second spot.

And that’s why Ernst Middendorp’s men will be hoping to extend their lead at the summit and close off the year with a bang when they travel to Pietermaritzburg to face Maritzburg United on Sunday (3:30pm kick-off).

Get three points there, and Chiefs would be well ahead of Sundowns and SuperSport United going into January and February, where they’ll play nine matches.

“A win against Maritzburg will give us a huge morale boost going into the new year. We know how tough it is in January and February, and that’s why we need all the confidence that we can get going into those months,” Zuma said.

However, Chiefs will be naïve to think they’ll go to KwaZulu-Natal and easily collect all three points from the Team of Choice. Eric Tinkler’s men have already put one past Chiefs this season after pulling off a surprise 2-1 victory in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout.

Maritzburg aspirations of claiming the club’s first silverware were ended by a 2-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns in the final last Saturday.

And that’s why Zuma believes they’ll have to up their game if they are going beat a wounded Maritzburg side. “It will be a tough game, especially after they eliminated us out of the cup. But we’ve shown in our last game (against Bloemfontein Celtic) that we can make it hard for ourselves if we are over-confident,” he said.

“We’ll go Maritzburg, and they’ll have all the support. But we need to change things around because we need the win.”

Chiefs’ impressive season has been a marvel to watch this season, especially the integration of the youngsters with the seasoned campaigners. Zuma (24) has made a notably contribution to the team in their bid to win the league title, scoring three goals and registering an assist in 12 matches.

And having been a substitute in most of those matches Zuma says he’s happy with any approach the coach brings on match-day.

“For me, it’s fine to start or not as long as I help and contribute to the team. And having started from the bench mostly, maybe that’s a working formula for the coach. So, I can’t really take it to heart.”

Pretoria giants, Sundowns and SuperSport, bossed the first half of the season as they scooped the Telkom Knockout and MTN8 trophies respectively.

However, Middendorp and his troops enjoyed the lion’s share of success in league via the monthly and quarterly rewards after winning the Coach of the Month awards for three times in a row and Q1-Innovation.