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Maritzburg get relegation boost and clip high-flying Royal’s wings

Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has again come to the rescue of the Pietermaritzburg based club.
Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has again come to the rescue of the Pietermaritzburg based club.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix/Gallo Images

Zambian striker Friday Samu eased Maritzburg United’s relegation worries when he gave them a 1-0 DStv Premiership victory over KwaZulu-Natal rivals Royal AM at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night.

Samu’s fourth league goal since he joined United in January from Green Buffaloes helped Ernst Middendorp’s team move to 12th place and four points clear of 15th-placed Swallows FC with all clubs left with three games to finish the season going into the weekend.

An out-swinging corner by left-back Keagan Ritchie in the 23rd minute was brilliantly headed into the net by Samu. Critically, the win gives United some breathing space ahead of their away game against Stellenbosch FC on Saturday.

For Royal it was a second defeat in succession after their Nedbank Cup semifinal loss against Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend. The league defeat leaves them with a lot to do in their remaining three matches if they’re to finish second and qualify for the Caf Champions League in their maiden season in the top-flight.

Samu and strike partner Tawanda Macheke always posed a big threat to Royal’s defence especially in the first 45 minutes.

The game could have gone either way in an open second half where Royal upped the tempo and managed to create chances but just failed to take them.

Royal are still second on the log with 45 points due to their better goal difference to Cape Town City. They will have to get points from their tough three final matches against Orlando Pirates, Lamontville Golden Arrows and already-crowned champions Mamelodi Sundowns to keep their chances of going to the Champions League next season alive.


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