AmaZulu and Golden Arrows square off in the first classical Durban derby of this season at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont this afternoon.
The derby between the two teams now has “classical” status following the elevation of Royal AM to the top-flight. Royal AM’s promotion means that AmaZulu and Arrows no longer contest the only Durban derby of the season.
Both teams find themselves in a transitional phase and so will be hungry to win. Benni McCarthy’s Usuthu side have endured a challenging start to the season given that they have won just one out of their five games in all competitions.
McCarthy’s troops struggled to emulate their heroics in their opening four games of the season. Whilst they played some attractive football at times, there was evidently a lack of cutting edge for them in the final third without the presence of star attacker Augustine Mulenga.
However, they head into the game on the back of a 3-1 win over Malawian side Big Bullets and so will have confidence. Usuthu can also be encouraged about the performance of striker Bongi Ntuli who bagged a brace against the Malawian giants. In Ntuli, AmaZulu do have a striker who is capable of challenging for the Lesley Manyathela Golden boot award.
Usuthu veteran Luvuyo Memela understands that his side still have plenty of hard work to do.
“It won’t be an easy game. Playing in the Champions League and playing in South Africa is different. It will be a tough game and we have not won any game in the league since it started. We need to try and do the same thing that we did in Malawi,” said Memela.
McCarthy’s side managed to score just one goal in their opening four games in all competitions, something that would have been of major frustration to the young and ambitious coach. The experienced Memela believes that goal scoring should no longer be an issue following the team’s performance against Big Bullets.
“We’ve been creating chances but have not been converting them. We managed to score three goals when playing away which was what we needed. We just needed luck. Sometimes in football you just have to dig deeper and deeper until it comes and you get the confidence,” said Memela.
Meanwhile, Arrows will also be hungry to win. In Lehlohonolo Seema, Abafana Bes’thende do have an experienced mentor but one who has a reputation for being a journeyman. The former Chippa United coach will be hoping to show that he is more than a journeyman by helping his side to replicate the heroics that they showed last season while achieving a fourth-place finish in the league.