Usuthu positive of another Royal hiding

Pablo Franco, coach of AmaZulu FC. | BackpagePix

Pablo Franco, coach of AmaZulu FC. | BackpagePix

Published Feb 21, 2024


Smiso Msomi

AmaZulu head coach Pablo Franco Martin was confident ahead of his side’s Nedbank Cup clash with KwaZulu-Natal rivals Royal AM.

Usuthu will begin their pursuit of cup glory at the Moses Mabhida Stadium against an inconsistent Thwihli Thwala side at 7pm today. The two teams have already met once this season in competitive action in the DStv Premiership with AmaZulu walking away convincing 3-0 winners on the day.

AmaZulu are also yet to lose a KZN derby this season and have recorded two draws and three victories against Royal AM, Richards Bay and Golden Arrows in all competitions.

Having demolished their provincial rivals before the mid-season break, Martin presented a positive figure in the Nedbank Cup media conference yesterday.

The Spanish-born coach expressed that although he remains alert and aware of the danger posed by Royal AM, he and his players feel they have nothing to fear.

“I think our performance against them was good in the league game. I’m expecting them to come with everything because this is a competition they’d want to win and it is also a derby,” he said.

“Also, they haven’t been able to beat us this season, even in the friendly games, so we know we can beat them and because of that we’re very confident going into the game.”

On the opposite side, Thwihli Thwala head coach John Maduka felt that given AmaZulu’s form against them in recent times, his side would approach this game without any pressure.

He explained that the Nedbank Cup was a different stage to that of the league and that his team was geared up for the battle with Usuthu.

“We’re ready for them. It’s a totally different ball game. In a league game you can either win, draw or lose but this is a cup game, there has to be a winner. I’m sure wherever they are, they should be the ones more worried than us because of the results they got in the league match,” he said.

AmaZulu have already suffered cup heartbreak this season as they were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Caring Knockout Cup by TS Galaxy. In a final that was staged in their own home ground, Usuthu were forced to watch from the stands as Stellenbosch lifted the cup in Durban.

Martin admitted that he and his team were eager to draw on their experience in that competition and in derbies to overcome Royal AM.

“We are always trying to learn. I don’t like learning from losing, I prefer winning, it’s always much better, but there’s always lessons in either situation,” he said.

“The fact that we’ve already played a cup competition will give us a certain advantage. We know that we’re playing for life or death. I think we deserved to play in the final based on our performance in the Carling Knockout Cup.

“We have also learnt in the previous games against Royal AM in derbies. We have been playing well in these games of late and I hope we can keep these results against KZN clubs going.”

Pablo Franco, coach of AmaZulu FC. | BackpagePix