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Football | Absa Premiership

Bongani Ndulula © Backpagepix

AmaZulu, Arrows square up in derby

Amazulu will look to return to winning ways in the Absa Premiership when they visit city rivals Lamontville Golden Arrows at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 18h00 (CAT, SA, GMT+2)

Usuthu have lost just one of their last five league matches, but the other four have all ended in draws, which has not helped them get their campaign back on track.

Craig Rosslee’s side remain in 16th place with 13th points from their 17 matches and go into this match on the back of a 0-0 draw against Maritzburg United.

However, despite not taking maximum points, AmaZulu looked promising on the night and the coach believes they need to start burying their chances to convert the recent draws into wins.

“We needed a bit of luck on Tuesday against Maritzburg; we did well in terms of creating chances but their goalkeeper also had a fantastic game,” said Rosslee.

“The boys are a bit angry that we didn’t take the win but obviously not disappointed with the way we played because we dominated the game.

“Had we scored it could’ve been two or three goals on the night because Maritzburg would have had to open up and it would have benefited us.”

Nonetheless, the former Ajax Cape Town coach says they have now set their sights on the next derby against Arrows where they will look to build from Tuesday’s performance.

“The general approach will be the same; we’ll try to intensify the way we play and also try to nullify the opposition and stop them from playing their game, which I think we did against Maritzburg,” added Rosslee.

“We are going to have to play with more calculated risk in terms of our movement going forward so that we ensure to get the win; even though we’ll be playing away we’ll take this as a home game as well.

“I think it will be an open game against Arrows because they won their game and they will be in a buoyant mood.

“I don’t see them sitting back like Maritzburg; I think they will come at us and that could be a positive thing for us as well.”

Abafana Bes’thende resumed their campaign on a high note with a 2-0 win over the University of Pretoria, their first on the road this season, and assistant coach Shaun Bartlett believes it’s crucial to not to drop their tempo on Saturday.

“I think we did emphasize to the players that we need to start the second round on the right foot and doing so was important, not just for the result but for confidence going into the next game,” he said.

The win saw Manqoba Mngqithi’s side moving up to 10th place on the table with 19 points from 17 matches, just two points away from a spot in the top eight.

Despite going into the game as favourites, Bartlett believes derbies are unpredictable and that they will have to play well on the day against an improving AmaZulu side.

“There’s always a lot of emotion involved in local derbies but it’s another home game for us and we have to make sure we consolidate the win against Tuks with another win,” he said.

“As far as AmaZulu are concerned it doesn’t matter where they are on the log. It is a local derby and statistics go out of the window because a lot of energy is shown by the players and they want to impress their fans as well.

“We have to make sure that we apply ourselves in the right manner to ensure that we get the right results that we want.”

AmaZulu will be monitoring the fitness of fullback Marc Van Heerden, who picked up an ankle knock against Maritzburg United and is now doubtful for Saturday’s game.

When the two sides met earlier this season the match ended in a 0-0 draw, a result that will not be satisfactory for either side on Saturday.


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