Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal derby between AmaZulu and Lamontville Golden Arrows at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on December 22 is set to divide the football loving people in KZN.
Ovidy Karuru and Butholezwe Ncube of AmaZulu will be up against Danny Phiri and Knox Mutizwa of Arrows. These four players have been crucial for Zimbabwe in the qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Their friendship will be put on hold on derby day.
Karuru explained: "We talk about such matches when we meet as players. The game will be decided in 90 minutes at the end of the day. We will be happy to win so that we can laugh at them because when we were in the national team they were teasing us about sitting at the bottom of the table.
"They were saying we are number last on the log and next season we will be playing in the National First Division. They were making those kind of jokes. I believe in the team. We have a good group of players here at AmaZulu. "
The last time these two sides met, Usuthu defeated Arrows 2-1 at King Zwelithini Stadium.
"Derbies are always interesting. They train across the street. It is our home game. We have to try by all means to win that derby. It is all about bragging rights. It is all about who rules in terms of Durban. We can't afford to lose the derby," he said.
Karuru understands the importance of collecting maximum points against Abafana Bes'thende.
"This derby comes at a time when Christmas is upon us and we need to give our supporters a good gift so that they will enjoy their Christmas and go into the new year knowing that they have the bragging rights in KZN. We want to keep our supporters happy," Karuru said.
Mutizwa is also looking forward to the KZN derby.
"We do talk about it as players. I can't wait for the day. We always talk about such games when we are in the national team. No one wants to lose such games. We are up against our neighbours. They are at home. They are the ones with more pressure," Mutizwa said.
Abafana Bes'thende have already won a derby this season against Maritzburg United. Mutizwa netted a stunner in that game.
"I was excited to score the goal against Maritzburg United. Last season I scored home and away against AmaZulu. I want to also score and help my team get three points," Mutizwa said.
Usuthu shared the spoils with Maritzburg United in the derby at Umlazi.
"Our aim is to get a positive result. We want to collect three points. Everyone is always looking forward to these derby matches. Everyone will be motivated. AmaZulu are a good team. We need to treat them with respect but at the same time we must fight to win the game, " Mutizwa 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.