The winners of the Coastal Stream play in the home and away final against the Inland Stream victors on May 10 and 17, with the winners promoted to the Premier Soccer League.
The losers of the final go into the promotion/relegation play-offs with the two stream runners-up, and second-last PSL team, from which one side is promoted.
United currently are in second place in the Coastal Stream on 38 points behind Bay United on 39 with three matches left.
A win over FC Cape Town will put Maritzburg out of reach of third-placed Nathi Lions (30 points) and guarantee a playoff place.
United right-back Peter Petersen, one of the unheralded performers of the season, told the Natal Witness yesterday the team is aware of the importance of the FC game, particularly with the race against Bay running so close.
Maritzburg play Bay at Harry Gwala Stadium on April 5, then Durban Stars at home in their last game on April 12.
“We can’t afford to drop points,” Petersen said.
“I think the game against FC Cape Town could even be the decider.
“But Bay are at home to Ikapa [Sporting], who can also be tough, so these games are important for both teams. Then, of course, we play Bay, and that really could be the decider.”
The former Moroka Swallows full-back said the finish line is almost in sight for the United players.
“We spoke the other day and if we look at it, it is five games and then we are back into the PSL. If we put our heads down, dig deep and work hard, then it is possible.”
On his personal form, where Petersen is crucial defensively as well as in initiating attacks and putting in crosses on United’s right side, the full-back said: “I have been enjoying my football here at Maritzburg. I have played with most of the players here at national under-20 and under-23 level, so I am used to them.”
Coach Ian Palmer said that United’s aim remains to take it match by match. The Pietermaritzburg team have won their last three games in a row.