Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs are eager to recover from a shock cup defeat last week, according to coach Stuart Baxter, as they look to entrench themselves at the top of the Premiership table.
Amakhosi, who went down 3-2 against Wits in the first round of the Telkom Knockout, face Maritzburg United in a sold-out league fixture at Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday evening.
“The next three or four games are going to be crucial as far as consolidating our position on the log is concerned," Baxter told the Chiefs website on Thursday.
"This makes the game against Maritzburg United very important and we will have to apply ourselves.
"We will give our all to bring all the points back to Johannesburg."
Baxter was sweating over the fitness of star midfielder Siphiwe Tsahabalala, who picked up a niggle against Wits, with Jimmy Jambo already sidelined earlier in the week due to injury.
“It has been a difficult week, considering the number of players that could not train with us due to different injuries," he said.
While Baxter's selection was affected by numerous other injury concerns in the squad, Chiefs will be boosted by the return of captain Itumeleng Khune.
Khune missed the cup clash against Wits due to personal reasons.
"The guys were obviously down following the defeat," said the Bafana Bafana shot stopper.
"But we all know that the most important thing when you are down is dusting yourself off and bouncing back, and we aim to do this against Maritzburg United."
While Chiefs, unbeaten in the league campaign, will look to stretch their four-point lead at the top of the standings, Maritzburg, five points behind in fifth position, will hope to close the gap on the front runners.
United beat Moroka Swallows on penalties, after a goalless encounter at Harry Gwala Stadium, to progress to the second round of the Telkom Knockout at the weekend.
Assistant coach Fadlu Davids believed they would need to raise their game even more against the league leaders.
"Chiefs are going to be a major challenge," Davids said.
"The last time they lost a game they bounced back by beating AmaZulu 6-0, so after their loss to Wits, they are going to be very dangerous."
Davids said the Chiefs squad was packed with quality players and the hosts were bracing for a difficult encounter. "Their threats are numerous and they are going to be at their best, so we will have to be at our best too," he said.
Elsewhere in league fixtures this weekend, SuperSport United face Wits in Atteridgeville on Saturday and Platinum Stars square up against Free State Stars in Phokeng.
Golden Arrows host Chippa United in Umlazi, Ajax Cape Town are at home to strugglers Mamelodi Sundowns at Cape Town Stadium and Moroka Swallows play Black Leopards in Dobsonville.
On Sunday, title holders Orlando Pirates face AmaZulu at Orlando Stadium and Bloemfontein Celtic host University of Pretoria at Free State Stadium.