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Maritzburg United v Royal Eagles

Maritzburg United face a must-win encounter as they prepare to face Royal Eagles in their first game of the promotion-relegation play-offs on Sunday.

Eric Tinkler's pulled off the unthinkable in the 2018/19 campaign as they claimed an impressive seven points from their last three fixtures and leapfrogged Free State Stars into 15th place on the final day of the season.

And, after Royal Eagles recorded a 1-0 win over NFD rivals Tshakhuma FC in midweek, Tinkler knows how important the result of their first game could turn out to be.

"So far the preparation leading to the play-offs are going so well," Tinkler said, as quoted by IOL.

"The players are ready and they understand the importance of getting a positive result against Royal Eagles. The mood in camp has been very good.

"The response from the players on the field has been exceptional. They are well aware of the importance of us getting through the play-offs even though we know that it is going to be extremely tough.

"Few teams from the PSL have survived the play-offs. We need to remember that. Psychologically the players are in a right frame of mind."

Tinkler expects to have a fully-fit squad at his disposal this weekend, with Brian Onyango back in contention after being rested in their last game of the Premiership season.

Tinkler added: "No one is carrying a major injury. Only Brian Onyango was rested last week but I think he will be available.

"Currently we do not have players with issues of suspensions and injuries. So far, all is looking good.

"It's an important game for us at home. We rely heavily on our 12th man. I think they have been absolutely fantastic for the period that I've been here.

"We hope they come up in their numbers to support us. It is very important that they come out there and do what they have been doing and hopefully we can make them proud."

Royal Eagles narrowly missed out on automatic promotion, finishing the season in second place, just three points shy of champions Stellenbosch FC.

And the NFD side's coach, Sazi Ngubane, has warned Maritzburg to be ready for a proper battle on Sunday.

"It won't be easy to play against Maritzburg United, they come from the PSL which is totally different to where we are competing," Ngubane was quoted as saying by KickOff.

"But they must not come with that mentality because we will surprise them. We will prepare well for them, come Sunday we will be ready."