Durban - The waiting game is on to see who will reign supreme in the battle between two local teams in the KwaZulu-Natal derby at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on December 22.
AmaZulu will be locking horns with Lamontville Golden Arrows in this much anticipated match. And Siyabonga Mbatha will be up against Nkosingiphile Gumede.
The duo comes from two of the biggest townships in KZN. Mbatha was born and bred in Umlazi while Gumede is from Kwasaxha in Chesterville.
Mbatha has vowed to keep a clean sheet against Abafana Bes'thende.
"Each and every game that I play, I always strive to keep a clean sheet. I know it won't happen all the time but hopefully most of the games that I play it will happen. We've set targets as a team and those targets are within reach for us, " Mbatha said.
Mbatha is looking forward to winning the battle against Gumede.
"It is always good to compete with someone who comes from the same area as you. The two teams are also from the same area. It is nice that the people who are playing between the sticks are from KZN. It is good and it does play a huge role going into the game because we all want to get the bragging rights. We want to be in situation where they know that it is us who rule this area, " Mbatha said.
Last season's KZN derbies between Usuthu and Abafana Bes'thende dazzled. Arrows thumped AmaZulu 4-1 in the first round while Usuthu avenged the defeat in the second round with a 2-1 victory.
"The derby means a lot to us. As I've already said, it is all about the bragging rights. It is more than a game for us as players. I can say we are training in the same place. When we train we can see them and when they train they can also watch us. Whoever wins the derby gets that sense of respect within the community that we live in," Mbatha said.
Arrows are high on confidence after beating Kaizer Chiefs in the league.
"No one wants to lose the derby. We will go out there and give our best. We want nothing but the three points. We did it against Maritzburg United and we want to do it against AmaZulu now," Gumede said.
Abafana Bes'thende got the better of Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in the opening fixture of the season.
"Derby matches are always important. We want to be the best team in KZN. We can only do that by winning such games. We know that it won't be easy but we are prepared to work hard for it," Gumede said.
Gumede is also looking forward to competing against Mbatha.
"I've kept a couple of clean sheets this season. If I can keep another one, I will be happy. It will be interesting coming up against Mbatha. He wants to win the game for his team and I also want to win the game for Arrows. It is good that we don't need to go to Gauteng to get an opportunity to play in top flight football. It is good to have two local goalkeepers, " Gumede said.
Match day experience for soccer fans: Kick For A Million
To build on the success of the competition from last season, Absa is once again changing many lives through the Kick for Million competition throughout the 2018/19 Absa Premiership season.
On match day, six fans are chosen ahead of the start of the game at the respective stadium to kick against an Absa Premiership legendary goalkeeper in a sudden death competition during halftime.
At the end of the contest, each runner-up will receive R1,000 and the winner of the round will take home R5,000.
The winner of the final round then automatically becomes a finalist to Kick for a Million at the trophy handover match at the end of the season in May 2019.
In the build-up to Saturday's KZN derby, Absa will host roadshows in Umlazi on Thursday, December 20 at Mega City Mall from 1pm to 5pm and Friday, December 21 at Eyadini Lounge from 3pm – 5pm.
And on match day, Absa will be bringing fans the ultimate match day experience through the Woza Nazo Absa Red Zone, where over a 1 000 soccer fans will get access to an exclusive area where there will be entertainment, food, refreshments and Woza Nazo merchandise ahead of the match.
The Absa Red Zone will be located on the outer field at King Zwelithini stadium, and open from 12pm until 2.30pm on December 22.
* This article was published in partnership with Absa.