Team of Choice enter tonight’s KZN derby clash against AmaZulu as favourites

2014-03-14 00:00

WHILE all eyes this weekend are on the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium tomorrow afternoon, Harry Gwala Stadium will host a derby of its own tonight when Durban’s AmaZulu meet Pietermaritzburg’s Maritzburg United in the battle of KwaZulu-Natal.

AmaZulu have enjoyed a better season up until this point under coach Craig Rosslee and occupy eighth position on the log (United are 13th), but they have lost their last three PSL outings without scoring a goal.

United, on the other hand, are flying under new coach Steve Komphela and they have collected 10 of a possible 15 points under their new mentor. The Team of Choice have also played two fewer matches than Usuthu this season, and if they win those games in hand they would climb above their neighbours.

United are playing with an intensity at the moment that Rosslee’s men have not displayed all season, and as a result the home side will enter tonight’s match as favourites despite log position.

“We know that they [United] are full of confidence at the moment and they are playing for each other,” Rosslee said in Durban yesterday. “We are expecting a tough game.”

Komphela was equally complimentary of his opposition. “We admire where they [AmaZulu] are and we want to get there,” he said. “It won’t be easy, but we are on a good run and we are looking to retain that form.”

One plus for AmaZulu is that they were not in midweek action and have a fully fit squad available, while United went through a gruellingly fast-paced 90 minutes against Free State Stars on Tuesday night.

“Thankfully we have a group of players who know how to look after their bodies; who watch what they eat and drink,” said Komphela. “This period [since Tuesday] has not been about training. It has been about maintenance and staying focused. The guys are in good physical condition.”

While the lively Orlando Smeekes is suspended, Komphela welcomes back Kurt Lentjies [suspension] and centre backs Mario Booysen and Mohammed Awal from injury.

Komphela will continue with his 4-2-3-1 formation that sees his back four protected by two holding midfielders while his four speedy attackers are given licence to roam.

“If it isn’t broken then why fix it?” the coach said of his formation. “They [the attackers] are our fantastic four. On their night, I don’t think there is anybody in the league who can stop them.”

For Rosslee, a top six finish is still the aim, but if that is to happen then results need to turn around immediately.

“For us right now the biggest concern has been the finishing,” said Rosslee. “We have been dominating large parts of the matches we have played in, but we need to hold our hands up. It is something that we have spoken about and we are looking for an improvement in front of goal.”

The match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.

Last 10 PSL meetings

2013/14 AmaZulu 0 - 2 United

2012/13 AmaZulu 0 - 0 United

2012/13 United 2 - 0 AmaZulu

2011/12 United 1 - 1 AmaZulu

2011/12 AmaZulu 0 - 0 United

2010/11 United 1 - 1 AmaZulu

2010/11 AmaZulu 3 - 2 United

2009/10 AmaZulu 0 - 1 United

2009/10 United 2 - 0 AmaZulu

2008/9 AmaZulu 1 - 2 United

United

Log position: 13th

Played: 20

Won: 6

Lost: 9

Points: 23

AmaZulu

Log position: 8th

Played: 22

Won: 7

Lost: 8

Points: 28

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