Wednesday’s match at Kings Park Stadium is between two clubs who between them have won just three of 18 league matches this season
In years gone by, this might well have been the kind of match Chiefs would have been confident about winning, but not any more. Here’s why:
1. AmaZulu have ambitions of their own
Under new owner Sandile Zungu, Usuthu are planning to go from perennial relegation battlers to top-four contenders. Zungu has invested heavily in the transfer market not only for new players but also in an all-star technical team.
And while new head coach Benni McCarthy has only been in charge for two games (a win and a draw), AmaZulu’s early season form was not great; in ninth position, they have claimed only 10 points from nine league matches this term.
Now that McCarthy is there, expectations will ramp up and the former Bafana Bafana striker will be eyeing the Chiefs game as a potential springboard for the season, a shot of confidence and a boost of morale going forward if they can claim victory against the nation’s most popular football team at Kings Park Stadium on Wednesday afternoon (3 pm kickoff).
2. The Orlando Pirates factor
McCarthy ended his playing career at Orlando Pirates and will have relished his own battles against Chiefs.
Then there’s the bunch of Pirates ‘rejects’ – players which Bucs deemed surplus to requirements and allowed to move to AmaZulu, including on-form strikers Luvuyo Memela and Augustine Mulenga, as well as midfielder Xola Mlambo. The likes of Lehlohonolo Majoro and Siphelele Mthembu have played for Chiefs and Pirates while Thembela Sikhakhane and Mbongeni Gumede are also former Buccaneers.
All these players will be fired up to do well against Chiefs. Former Glamour Boys talisman Siphiwe Tshabalala is however not expected to play – he missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic after testing positive for Covid-19.
3. Amakhosi’s fragile confidence
While Usuthu will provide a stern examination for Amakhosi, any game right now is tough for a team which has won only one of nine league matches this term, more than two-and-a-half months ago against Chippa United.
Hunt’s side again looked unconvincing in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to a Maritzburg United side which began the game at the bottom of the table. Amakhosi are themselves now just a point above the relegation zone and are looking devoid of confidence.