The KZN club had occupied 16th and last position for nearly the entire Absa Premiership season, but went into the final day's league action second-from-bottom, needing to beat Jomo Cosmos away in Potchefstroom to secure their top flight status for another season. With eight minutes to go at Olen Park, it didn't look good for Maritzburg.
The Team of Choice were 1-0 down, and with the University of Pretoria set for victory over Golden Arrows in Tshwane, Maritzburg were on their way down to the National First Division.
But buoyed on by a sizeable Maritzburg support in the North West, United netted three goals (Mohau Mokate and an Evans Rusike brace) in the final 10 minutes to secure survival in the most dramatic possible way, Cosmos instead relegated to the NFD, while AmaTuks must now face the promotion/ relegation play-offs.
According to the Kick Off website, Team of Choice chairman Farook Kadodia decided a couple of months back to do away with regular win bonuses, instead deciding to offer his players and all-or-nothing deal: secure the club's top flight status and receive a sum of R1.5 to be shared amongst the squad (of around 25 players).
It worked as the Midlands club went on to win three of their last five matches, claiming seven points in their final three outings. Head coach Ernst Middendorp, meanwhile, is expected to receive a substantial separate bonus, as per his contract agreement with the club following his arrival for a third spell in Pietermaritzburg back in December last year.
Maritzburg have been in the top flight since the 2008/2009 season.
Last season they finished eighth under now Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela. But they have battled this term, first under Mandla Ncikazi and then Clive Barker, before Middendorp finally rectified the situation, literally in the final few minutes of the season. - African News Agency (ANA)
Original source: Incentive helped Maritzburg beat the drop