DURBAN - Do not read too much into AmaZulu’s 3-0 Telkom Knockout defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in October.
Wednesday night will be a different ball game, with the venue, atmosphere and some of the AmaZulu personnel changed for this Absa Premiership league clash. And with a bit of luck, the result will be different too, said AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson.
Playing this game at the 15000-capacity King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi instead of Moses Mabhida Stadium limits the chances of the Chiefs supporters significantly outnumbering the home die-hards. It means the crowd will be closer to the action, making for a different atmosphere.
Johnson is likely to field midfield workhorse Michael Morton and former Chiefs winger Ovidy Karuru to make for a different line-up than the one in the cup tie.
These adjustments, Johnson expects, will filter onto the pitch, where Usuthu will aim to be a touch more clinical than in the cup.
Johnson is still smarting over that defeat, where they missed two early scoring opportunities before Amakhosi won, with two of their goals coming via deflections.
“In the cup game I thought if we had put away the chances that Rhulani (Manzini) and Mabhuti (Khenyeza) had, then it could have been a different game. They had two deflected goals, but take nothing away from George Maluleka’s goal, which was well taken," he said.
“We have seen areas of their game that we think we can exploit, and they have certain strengths which we will defend. Taking the game to Moses (Mabhida) would be like making it a home game for Chiefs. King Zwelithini is our home and playing there is not normal for Chiefs.”
Morton is back in the selection pool after suspension and Zimbabwean international Karuru returns following two months out injured. The latter had a forgettable spell with Chiefs two seasons ago and is eager to make an impact under Johnson.
“I’m ready to play and I thank the coach for this chance to get back into the team,” said Karuru, who joined the Durban outfit late last season during their First Division campaign.
"Coming back from an injury, I owe it to the coach and the team to do well. There’s nothing personal or anything for me to prove against Chiefs. The team comes before individual glory and I’m just happy to be back."
Chiefs come to the coast with changes too. After the weekend’s 1-0 semi-final cup loss to Bidvest Wits, they are without midfielder Wiseman Meyiwa, who was sent off in that meeting. That result left Chiefs coach Steve Komphela with only the league and Nedbank Cup to target for silverware, following two barren seasons under his command.
It should therefore be a fired-up Chiefs, said Manzini, but one they believe they have the measure of.
“In the previous game we let ourselves down. It was from our own mistakes that we conceded three. We have to score first, minimise the mistakes, and I’m sure if we follow the coach’s instructions we’ll be victorious,” said the bulky forward who is second on the scorers’ chart with five goals.