Van Heerden boost for Usuthu

2014-02-19 00:00

AMAZULU have been resilient in defence in their five PSL matches since the start of the year, conceding just twice, and they will be boosted even further by the return of left-back Marc van Heerden for tonight’s PSL clash away to Mpumalanga Black Aces at Mbombela Stadium.

Van Heerden returned on Friday from a trial at Swedish club Orebro SK. While a final decision on whether or not he has done enough to earn himself a move to Europe remains up in the air, sources close to AmaZulu say that a deal is unlikely.

“It was an eye-opener. I learnt a lot. Football there works very differently and it is a lot more professional. It was a really good experience,” Van Heerden, capped twice at national level, said of his 10-day trial abroad.

While Van Heerden was away, Sifiso Hlanti deputised at left-back with limited success, and coach Craig Rosslee is likely to bring Van Heerden straight back into his starting line-up for tonight’s clash.

Usuthu remain in fifth place on the log, but they have played more games than any other team in the league, making it difficult to gauge where they will end up once all the other clubs have caught up their remaining fixtures.

“We can’t say that we will end up in the same position, but what is important is that we keep picking up points,” said Van Heerden.

“There will be losses along the way, but we are in a good position now.”

One of those losses came in Usuthu’s last outing — a lacklustre 1-0 defeat at home to a physical Wits side over the weekend.

Van Heerden did not see that match, but saw enough at yesterday’s light morning training session to know that it hurt the players.

“The guys were a little bit down and some things were said,” said the 25-year-old. “The trick now is just to put that loss behind us and to look forward to the next game.”

Aces, under former AmaZulu and Bafana Bafana boss Clive Barker, have performed above expectations so far this season and find themselves in 12th place and with daylight between them and the relegation-threatened clubs.

A 2-1 win over a resurgent Maritzburg United on Sunday would have quelled rele­gation worries for the time being, and Van Heerden is expecting Barker to want to win this one particularly badly.

“Clive [Barker] is very passionate about AmaZulu and he will want to get one over us,” said Van Heerden.

“I’m expecting them [Aces] to be hard working. It’s going to be tough, but we just need to focus on doing the things that we do well.”

On the injury front, AmaZulu remain without Sadney Urikhob and Ruzaigh Gamildien. Club captain Tapuwa Kapini is available after recovering from his mild concussion, but he is expected to be on the bench as the in-form Philani Zikalala continues to impress.

Tonight’s match kicks off at 7.30 pm, but will not be televised.

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