DON’T temper with a winning formula...

So goes one of football’s unwritten rules.

But Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp will be forced to defy the old belief and rethink his approach for the tricky Telkom Knockout fixture against Maritzburg United this weekend.

Amakhosi take a rare trip to Mbombela Stadium to host the Team of Choice in their TKO semi-final on Sunday (3pm).

And Middendorp is facing a mini crisis, with the absence of three key players – Daniel Akpeyi, Erick Mathoho and Willard Katsande.

The trio will miss the cup clash due to suspension, while Kwanda Mngonyama has also been ruled out for Maritzburg through suspension.

Mathoho was shown red for his scuffle with Orlando Pirates players in the recent Soweto derby, Katsande was cautioned for has reckless tackle, while Akpeyi earned his fourth yellow card of the season.

Akpeyi has been vital for the team in the tournament, proving a solution to Amakhosi’s goalkeeping conundrum.

Bruce Bvuma is likely to start, but, interestingly, new-recruit Brylon Petersen could be on the bench.

“We don’t have Mathoho available, so we have now time to look into it,” said Middendorp.

“The first choice could have been Siyabonga Ngezana. Unfortunately, he’s sitting somewhere in Egypt to do duties.”

Ngezana is on national duty at the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

However, Yagan Sasman, Kgotso Moleko and Lorenzo Gordinho are available for selection, with the latter likely to be a possible candidate.

The crisis could also open the door for Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who has found it increasingly difficult to reclaim his spot in the team.

But the biggest poser for Middendorp should be in midfielder where the German isn’t blessed with an abundance of defensive-midfielders.

Katsande has played second fiddle to Kearyn Baccus this season, the Aussie who is out injured.

Siphelele Ntshangase, who hasn’t won the heart of Middendorp, is unlikely to start for Amakhosi on Sunday, not with the option to push George Maluleka further back into the anchoring role.

The Soweto giants are chasing their first cup success in five seasons, and, despite their challenges, they will be undoubtedly favourites to reach the final.