AmaZulu sharpen their spears for old foe Orlando Pirates
AmaZulu are raring to have a go at one of their oldest foes as among South African football’s longest-standing rivalries resumes when they meet Orlando Pirates at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday‚ Usuthu coach Cavin Johnson has said.
AmaZulu‚ in 11th‚ need a win to restore top eight ambitions and avoid dropping into the relegation scrap quagmire as the Absa Premiership enters squeaky bum time.
Usuthu and Pirates have four games left. The in-form‚ title-chasing Buccaneers‚ suffered a rare recent slip-up on Wednesday night‚ drawing goalless against SuperSport United in Nelspruit.
At such a crucial time of the season‚ where Bucs have a three-point disadvantage behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns‚ but have also played a game more‚ they were points Pirates could scarcely avoid to drop.
Now they meet AmaZulu in Umlazi‚ south of Durban‚ and Usuthu need no motivation in this clash between two old rivals.
“It’s always a big game against Pirates. They’re coming to King Zwelithini Stadium having been on a very‚ very good run‚” Johnson said‚ referring to Bucs’ charge of five league wins in a row that ended with the draw against SuperSport.
“I think they haven’t lost for quite some time but at the same time I think it’s two of the oldest horses playing this weekend against each other at King Zwelithini.
“You [the media] standing here now‚ you can hear the atmosphere within the club is always high when we play against the bigger teams.
“Players want to play‚ players want to show that they want to come out [in the starting XI].”
Considering how risky the process of a club buying their way into the PSL by acquiring a franchise can be – as AmaZulu did at the start of the season purchasing Thanda Royal Zulu’s status – so far Johnson has performed a superb role having Usuthu hover consistently in mid-table.
The Durban team (32 points) have a five-point gap over second-last Ajax Cape Town (27) in the promotion/relegation playoff position‚ and three points against Pirates will go a long way ensuring the club remain in the PSL next season.
Usuthu have Siyethemba Mnguni back from the suspension that kept the promising central midfielder out of the 1-1 draw away against Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday.