FILE - AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
FILE - AmaZulu head coach Benni McCarthy. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

AmaZulu will be eager to bring the high flying Sekhukhune back down to earth

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Oct 26, 2021

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Johannesburg – After reaching the group stage of the CAF Champions League for the first time in their history over the weekend, AmaZulu will be eager to continue with the fighting spirit when they visit rookies Sekhukhune United in Polokwane on Wednesday afternoon.

What was initially a dream became a reality for AmaZulu who progressed to the group stage of the continental competition on the away goal rule following their 1-1 draw with heavyweights TP Mazembe over the two legged qualifiers this month.

Early this season, Usuthu appeared to be a shadow of themselves as they struggled to hit the ground running. Coach Benni McCarthy suggested that their injury woes, and player adaptation, contributed to their crisis early this season.

Indeed that proved to be the case. As soon as attackers Thabo Qalinge and Augustine Mulenga were fully fit, there was a breath of fresh air for Usuthu. They progressed to the second round of the qualifiers after beating Big Bullets 3-1.

Their resurgence also showed in the league, registering their maiden win over Baroka before unfortunately drawing with Kaizer Chiefs. Credit should go to the technical team, the players and the management for believing in themselves.

Usuthu might be sharp upfront but that’s due to the strong midfield they have. Makhehlene Makhaula is the team’s pillar of strength. Gone are those days he was hard on tackles. Makhaula plays clean and covers up well for their defence.

That role has been easy for him given the fact that he’s got Keagan Buchanan who excels in passes and playing behind the strikers. That’s why it’s relatively been easy for strikers such as Bonginkosi Ntuli to chip in with the goals this campaign.

In Sekhukhune, though, Usuthu will come up against a side that’s stubborn. That they are sixth on the log standings, after back-to-back wins over Cape Town City and TS Galax\y, shows how seamlessly they’ve adopted in the top-flight.

But they know that they have improved regularly if they are not going to succumb to the pressure of having to fight for their lives later in the season. Kudos to the players for proving that they belong in the top-tier after their promotion.

Striker Chibuike Ohizu is one of the top marksmen in the league at the moment. That’s why with the right supply and exploitation of pocket spaces he’s dangerous in front of goal. Goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata has been in fine form too.

Meanwhile, Stellenbosch will be eager to keep the dream start going when they host strugglers Marumo Gallants at the Danie Craven Stadium early this afternoon. Stellenbosch are unbeaten this term, thanks to three wins and four draws.

The arrival of Judas Moseamedi has given the team more options up front, while Ashley Du Preez is growing in leaps and bounds as a team player although the goals have dried up for him. Credit should go to coach Steve Barker.

Gallants, on the other hand, haven’t been as consistent as they’d have liked to this campaign. They are in the play-off qualifiers in the Confederation Cup where they’ll clash with Mazembe over a two-legged tie for a spot in the group stage.

In the league, though, they are languishing in the relegation/promotion spot thanks to three draws and three losses. That’s why they’ll be eager to take their winning momentum to the league by getting the better of lose-less Stellenbosch.

@Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport

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