Coach Martin targets five points by Christmas as AmaZulu face Sundowns
AmaZulu coach Pablo Franco Martin is targeting at least five more points from a possible 12 in their remaining DStv Premiership fixtures this year.
Martin said this ahead of 11th-placed Usuthu's crunch league match against leaders and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi, where both teams will arrive licking their wounds after suffering defeats at the weekend.
AmaZulu were eliminated from the Carling Knockout Cup with their 3-2 semifinal defeat by TS Galaxy at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday. Sundowns lost 1-0 away to TP Mazembe in Democratic Republic of Congo in their Caf Champions League group match on Saturday.
“It's a pity we're not playing them [Sundowns] in our stadium [Moses Mabhida] but we understand the state of the pitch is not good at the moment. This is something they [the stadium authorities] need to fix,” Martin said.
AmaZulu's three league matches after the Sundowns game will also be at home against:
- Sekhukhune United (December 13);
- Cape Town Spurs (December 22); and
- Royal AM (December 29).
“What is good is that all the players want to play against Sundowns and there's nothing special [I need] from my side in terms of motivation. They know we're playing for our futures.
“A good result against Sundowns will be a good motivation for us. We need to reach at least 20 points by the end of the year. In the second half of the season we're going to be better in terms of football, preparation and development of the players.”
AmaZulu have had a bumpy ride in the league with only three wins from 12 matches. Their six draws and three defeats mean Usuthu have dropped 21 points.
Playing against Sundowns, who have won all nine of their league matches, Usuthu may struggle to gain anything if they don't start well. That's a point Martin fully understands after seeing his charges struggling to recover in the semifinal loss against Galaxy after conceding two goals in the first half.
AmaZulu ended last season fighting relegation but Martin, who signed a three-year contract with the club at the start of the campaign, has vowed they will target the top eight this season and should manage to achieve that if they end the first half well.
“It's a long-term process but I don't see us struggling the way the team did last season. I'm hoping to get a few attacking players in January to strengthen the team.
“If we can get those players and train with them during the Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] break [in January], we should have a better second half.”
After an absence of two months not playing league matches, Sundowns returned with aplomb last Wednesday, beating Tshwane rivals SuperSport United 2-0 to reclaim top spot in the Premiership.
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