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MTN8 champions City must refocus ahead of tough league clash against Wits

Following their MTN8 final success at the weekend, Cape Town City will have to refocus quickly when they host high-flying BidVest Wits in the Absa Premiership on Tuesday.

The fixture is part of a full round of midweek league action and while City may still be feeling euphoria from their defeat of SuperSport United in the MTN8 decider on Saturday, they also need to reignite a flagging league campaign.

Benni McCarthy's side have taken just six points from a possible 18 in the league this season, a poor return for a side who have talked themselves up as potential championship challengers.

Second-placed Wits made an excellent start to the campaign, but a 1-0 home loss to 10-man Polokwane City last time out has rather deflated their confidence.

McCarthy might be tempted to shuffle his pack against Wits for a number of reasons, not least that many of his players will be fatigued after a grueling 120 minutes on a heavy pitch in Durban.

The second is that some may struggle to refocus - the last time City lifted a trophy, the Telkom Knockout in 2016 - they lost their next game 4-0 at home to Platinum Stars.

And when they lost the MTN8 final to SuperSport last season, it was the start of a run of just a single win in nine matches for the side.

McCarthy might be tempted them to use players not involved on Saturday, such as a return for suspended defender Taariq Fielies and injured winger Surprise Ralani.

He could also start striker Matthew Rusike and midfield general Teko Modise, and bring left-back Ebrahim Seedat back into the side.

This may be especially important as City have another league game away at Maritzburg United on Friday in what is a hectic period of fixtures for them.

A resurgent Kaizer Chiefs will also be in action on Tuesday when they visit the Makhulong Stadium to play promoted Highlands Park, seeking a fourth straight Absa Premiership victory for the first time in 18 months.

Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas has defender Erick Mathoho back in contention, while George Maluleka returns after missing the win against AmaZulu last time out.

"Highlands Park are a good side," Maluleka told his club's website.

"It's always difficult against them, as they are fighters. They also have a very experienced coach in Owen da Gama.

"We just need to keep our focus and be mentally strong. We have now won three games in a row and that has given us a lot of faith. We want to build on that. We want to keep the momentum."

AmaZulu are still reeling after being docked six points for unpaid wages to former player Phineas Nambandi, a sanction that has seen them plummet to the foot of the Absa Premiership table.

They will want to claw some of those losses back when they host improving Maritzburg United at the King Zwelithini Stadium.

History is against them, though, with just two wins from their 18 previous meetings against their KwaZulu-Natal rivals.

The fourth game on Tuesday night sees SuperSport back in action as they visit improving Polokwane City, who have taken 10 points from the last 12 available under Serbian coach Jozef Vukušič.

Table-topping Orlando Pirates host Lamontville Golden Arrows on Wednesday, a side that are winless in their previous six matches and should be there for the taking.

Pirates could have three players back from injury, winger Thabo Qalinge, defender Ntsikelelo Nyauza and striker Thabiso Kutumela, but goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo remains sidelined with his ankle problem that has kept him out of the entire season to date.

Champions Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Bloemfontein Celtic seeking to move up the log from their current mid-table position, while Black Leopards entertain Baroka FC in a Limpopo derby and Chippa United welcome Free State Stars to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.


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