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Football | Absa Premiership

Usuthu aiming to surprise Maritzburg



AmaZulu will look to resume their Absa Premiership campaign on a positive note when they take on Maritzburg United in a KwaZulu-Natal derby at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night, kick-off at 7:30pm.

Usuthu remain at the bottom of the table with 12 points from 16 matches and go into this clash having failed to win in their last seven league outings, the latest being a 2-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs.

However, new signing Bongani Ndulula believes his side are capable of springing a surprise when they face their provincial rivals after putting in some hard work during the break and adding more new faces to the side.

“I have just recently joined the team but the spirit is high and the guys have put in a lot of work in preparation for the second half of the season,” said Ndulula.

“There are some new players in the team and the coach has been trying some combinations, but at the end of the day it’s about what happens on the field on Tuesday night.”

Besides the pride that is at stake, the former Orlando Pirates player admitted that the prospect of collecting maximum points at home is a bigger motivating factor for Craig Rosslee’s side.

“Since we’re at the bottom and playing at home it’s important for us to go for the three points which will give us a lot of confidence going forward,” added Ndulula.

“Maritzburg United are a very strong side and that’s why they are up there on the log, but there is no secret regarding what we have to do in order to win the game.

“We have to convert our chances and keep things tight at the back. It’s going to be a difficult game but if we work as a team and follow our game plan then anything is possible.”

United, on the other hand, are in a much superior position on the log standings as they are currently occupying fifth place with 24 points from their 16 games.

However, the Team of Choice also go into this game looking to bounce back from a slump towards the end of 2012 which saw them losing three of their last four matches.

Ernst Middendorp’s side did manage to claim a point through a 1-1 draw against the University of Pretoria just before the Christmas break, but will look to return to winning ways in order to remain in touch with the pacesetters.

Nonetheless, defender Mario Booysen believes the break also came at the right time for his side and is hopeful that they have managed to correct some mistakes which cost them valuable points during the second quarter of the season.

“We trained very well during the break and we’ve been fortunate regarding injuries, so everyone is really looking forward to the first game of the second round,” said Booysen.

“We have also acquired some experienced players and we are all focused on getting that first win so that we can continue on a positive note.”

Earlier this season a brace from Cuthbert Malajila handed United a 2-0 win over AmaZulu at the Harry Gwala Stadium, but Booysen says they are expecting a tougher challenge in Durban.

“Derbies are always difficult because there’s also pride at stake but with the type of players we have and them (AmaZulu) also fighting to move up the table it should be an interesting match,” he added.

“We know they have signed new players but at the end of the day we have to be ready for any team they bring out there.

“We know that they will come out fighting but it’s important for us to focus more on our preparations and our strengths and not spend too much time worrying about our opponents.”

AmaZulu have not beaten United since 2010 where they registered a 3-2 win at home with Ayanda Dlamini scoring a brace, and will be counting on the experienced striker to score his third league goal of the season.

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