/ 9 December 2008

AmaZulu target Arrows

AmaZulu head coach Clive Barker is expecting plenty of fireworks when Usuthu face Golden Arrows in what promises to be an explosive Absa Premiership Durban derby at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday night. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Barker is taking no comfort from the fact Arrows have collected only one point from their last three league matches, and have been replaced by Ajax Cape Town at the top of the Premiership after defending champions SuperSport United clobbered Arrows 2-0 at home last weekend.

Said Barker: ”I watched that match and believe me, Arrows are a good side and were never out of it. Credit to United, who I rate highly. SuperSport are not flamboyant but are professional and get the job done. They are probably the most difficult side to beat at the moment.

”I expect Arrows to come out smoking at us. After all, this is a local derby with a lot at stake. We will have to be on our toes and forget that Arrows have not won for the past three games. They will be up for this derby and we must take nothing for granted.”

Usuthu go into the game on the back of a hard-fought but well deserved 3-2 away win over BidVest Wits. AmaZulu had to come from behind to beat Wits at the Students’ Milpark fortress last week, and that win was just the tonic needed going into this crunch clash against Arrows.

Said Barker: ”We showed plenty of character when we were 2-1 down and fought back to win. It was great. We missed chances but we are improving because the squad is getting bigger each week with more players recovering from injury to bolster the squad.”

Barker’s boys received two massive boosts this week with the return from injury of their captain and defensive kingpin, Belux Kasonga, plus ace striker Myron Shongwe, who has been sidelined for six weeks.

Said Barker: ”We are getting better and better and that is because we have key players returning from injury to strengthen the squad. It is great to have Belux and Myron back and both are in the melting pot for a place in the line-up against Arrows. Both boost my squad.”

AmaZulu’s biggest problem this season has been consistency, but as Barker explained: ”Most teams have the same problem. We have won five of our past nine games but lack consistency. However, there is a big improvement and if we keep the momentum going, we could be challenging for honours after the New Year.”

Barker is also pleased with his rookie striker, Brad Ritson, who came off the bench to score the winner against Wits. ”That was Ritson’s third goal this season and I am delighted with his progress.”

But although Collins Chabalala and Dumisani Ngwenya got on to the score sheet against Wits, both missed easy chances and Barker will be keeping his fingers crossed both strikers bring along their shooting boots.

Barker acknowledges the two biggest dangers to Usuthu are Arrows skipper Kagisho Dikgacoi and free-scoring Richard Henyekane.

Said Barker of midfield anchorman Dikgacoi: ”He is simply in a class of his own. He is a brilliant player who I believe Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana should build his midfield around for next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup squad. He is that good in my opinion.” — Sapa