Usuthu, Arrows to go all out

2010-03-26 00:00

AS AMAZULU and Lamontville Golden Arrows engage in away Telkom Knockout quarter-final clashes this weekend, they are mainly concerned about their opponents’ records against them.

AmaZulu meet Premier Soccer League champions SuperSport United at the Super Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday (3 pm), while Arrows lock horns against Ajax Cape Town at Newlands Stadium in the Mother City on Sunday.

Usuthu have enjoyed a good run over SuperSport this season, first booting them out of the MTN8 cup and then thrashing them 3-0 in the final league clash of the season.

Giving the Usuthu a slight edge over their hoodoo side is that United will be without pacy winger Daine Klate, and rock-solid defender Bongani Khumalo (who are with Bafana Bafana at the Brazil training camp) and the injured duo of defender Morgan Gould and goalkeeper Emile Baron.

However, Usuthu coach Neil Tovey is hearing none of that, saying: “It is more than likely that the [United] players promoted for first team duties will be eager to impress so that they can secure contracts and deals for the new season. Our game plan is to focus on our strengths and to go all out.

“Thinking about what SuperSport will do is futile, we just have to be prepared in every department and we are ready.”

AmaZulu skipper Pere Ariyewai said Usuthu are expecting a tough afternoon tomorrow.

“They [United] wouldn’t want to be beaten thrice in a season by us, especially when they have just made history by winning the league a record three times.”

Regarding their good current run, which has seen AmaZulu win four games in a row, Tovey said: “We have come a long way with a lot of negative stuff happening in the camp. [Jan] Sillo’s death, the Bafo Biyela issue and our strikers not living up to expectations compounded matters to a certain extent, but I am happy now that we seem to have gotten over that phase.

“[Striker] Dumisani Ngwenya looks sharper now and the goals he has scored have boosted his confidence, and this has rubbed off on his fellow strikers, Ayanda Dlamini and Bradley Ritson.”

Meanwhile, despite blasting the Urban Warriors 6-0 in the MTN8 final in September to earn Arrows their first-ever silverware, coach Manqoba Mngqithi anticipates a tough match.

The philosophical former Howick school teacher said Arrows will be out to change Telkom Knockout history against Ajax.

“They [Ajax] have eliminated us twice in the Telkom. You’d remember that after we had beaten Kaizer Chiefs 4-1 last season, we were so confident of going further in the cup, only to fall to them. We want to change that history this weekend.”

Mngqithi said the Telkom Knockout offers them an opportunity to redeem themselves, following their failure to finish the PSL season among the top eight teams.

This means Arrows won’t be able to defend their maiden trophy next season. “We are disappointed about not being able to defend what we fought hard for. Our players got a bit carried away after winning the MTN8, and now that they have been brought down to earth they realise the importance of consistency.

“I believe we are still on track to reach our goal of playing three cup finals this season.”

Mngqithi did not hide the fact that the absence of key players on Bafana duty — central defender Siyabonga Sangweni, central midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni and speedy striker Richard Henyekane — could cripple his plans.

“Who would be happy not to have the spinal cord of his team. However, this offers the other guys who have been on the wings the chance to step up and show what they are capable of,” the coach said.

Interestingly, Tovey and Mngqithi’s future with their clubs is unclear. Tovey is said to be on his way out, while Mngqithi is linked with Usuthu.

Mngqithi, whose contract ends in June 2010, said he has not begun talks over an extension with Abafana Besth­ende.

Bagging the Telkom Knockout or Nedbank Cup might put to an end the endless speculation surrounding the future of the two coaches.

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