KZN teams to go all out

2015-03-07 00:00

THE Soweto derby will hog headlines in the PSL this weekend, but closer to home there are a couple of big games for KwaZulu-Natal’s two clubs.

In truth, they are all big games for AmaZulu now. Last weekend’s 5-2 win over SuperSport United has given Usuthu a much-needed boost, but the harsh reality is that they remain bottom of the log, staring relegation in the face, with only 10 matches to play. Coach Steve Barker and his charges are on the road tonight where they will take on Mpumalanga Black Aces at Mbombela Stadium. The clash will see Steve meeting his uncle, Clive Barker, for the first time since his move to Usuthu. But there can be no time for sentimentality as AmaZulu look to save their season.

“It is always nice to play against him and I think I’m trailing slightly at this stage in terms of [head-to-head] wins,” Steve told this week.

“If we can score five goals against SuperSport, then I think we can do that against anybody. As long as we apply ourselves correctly and execute properly, and take our chances like we did against SuperSport United.”

Maritzburg United, meanwhile, are in a safer position than their KZN neighbours in terms of relegation worries. But the Team of Choice have problems of their own. Without a win in seven league matches, Maritzburg travel to Tuks tomorrow, who have not lost in seven matches.

It has been a difficult time for coach Steve Komphela but travelling to Pretoria may be a blessing in disguise, allowing United to escape from the pressures of the expectant Harry Gwala crowd as they look to rediscover the form they showed for much of the first half of the season.

“From a sympathy point of view it does ease the pressure a little bit,” Komphela, who has not won at home since October, told Weekend Witness. “When you are at home it is always a ‘must win’ and when you are away there isn’t that demand. But the fact remains that the pressure is there, because results have not been forthcoming.”

Komphela has once again vowed to approach tomorrow’s match with a cavalier attitude, prioritising attack over defence in a bid to get their first win since December.

“We have to carry on with this attacking mentality,” he said. “That is the only way we can get out of this situation — by scoring goals.”

Maritzburg were the better side in last weekend’s stalemate against Free State Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium, with their second half performance suggesting that they still possess the goods to knock over opposition defences.

Mondli Cele, so influential for United in 2014, was one of the substitutes who made an impact in that second half. Komphela is not expected to tinker with that starting line-up too much, but there must be a temptation to include Cele from the first whistle.

“I would expect him [Cele] to rediscover that form from the first half of the season,” said Komphela. “But it is important to remember that these guys are young, many of them [Cele included] in their first season in the PSL. We have to manage them properly.”

Recent form is certainly not on Maritzburg’s side going into this one, but with a date at home against Kaizer Chiefs lurking on Wednesday, points today become even more valuable.

AmaZulu are off at 8.15 pm tonight while Maritzburg will be on SABC 1 at 3.30 pm tomorrow.

PSL fixtures


3.30 pm - Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando


6 pm - SuperSport United v Ajax Cape Town

8.15 pm - Free State Stars v

Mamelodi Sundowns,

Black Aces v AmaZulu


3.30 pm - University of Pretoria v Maritzburg Utd

Platinum Stars v Moroka Swallows.

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