Amakhosi’s PSL campaign has turned worse and Usuthu now stand in the way of their bid to control the decline
In a season they are enduring an unfamiliar campaign of fighting against top-flight league demotion, Chiefs arrive in Durban hard-pressed for rejuvenation and to steer clear of bottom-placed Black Leopards who have two points fewer than them.
Just one win in nine league games does not make a good reading for 14th-placed Amakhosi who, surprisingly, have been impressive in the Caf Champions League.
That makes Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt at the centre of two extreme experiences in his job.
He has made history by becoming the first coach to guide the Soweto giants to the Champions League group stage, while at the same time leading them to one of the worst starts in the PSL as their domestic run threatens to spiral into an uncontrollable situation.
Now they face an AmaZulu side which appears to have their confidence restored following the arrival of coach Benni McCarthy.
|Game||AmaZulu vs Kaizer Chiefs|
|Date||Wednesday, January 13|
|Time||15:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App||SuperSport’s PSL channel 202/SABC 1|
Squads & Team News
Just as Hunt was plotting how best to upstage AmaZulu and get Chiefs out of the difficult situation they have found themselves in, injuries have struck two key players.
Khama Billiat cracked a bone in his leg during last weekend’s 2-0 defeat by Maritzburg United and has been ruled out for two months.
Also set to miss the Usuthu trip is Leonardo Castro who has an abdominal strain but could be back for their weekend match against Cape Town City.
Interestingly, it is Billiat who has provided assists for all the three goals scored by Castro in all competitions this season.
Hunt, however welcomes back midfielder Philani Zulu into his squad.
Zulu missed their last two league assignments due to suspension after being red-carded in their match against SuperSport United on December 15, 2020.
Another piece of encouraging news for Hunt is the return of midfielder Kearyn Baccus who has resumed training after getting injured at the beginning of November 2020 and is available for selection.
It is not yet clear if captain Itumeleng Khune is back after his absence in their last two games under unexplained circumstances.
Defensive midfielder Willard Katsande and attacking linkman Lebogang Manyama’s return are also uncertain after being absent in the last two matches.
While Hunt has stated that forward Samir Nurkovic is still far from returning to full fitness, the coach at least expects an improved showing from the Serb who has been a second half substitute in their previous two games.
Hunt would be hoping to send his best available squad to battle on Wednesday as Chiefs have become desperate for redemption under difficult circumstances.
Hunt’s opposite number McCarthy has not had a bad start in his AmaZulu job.
The Bafana Bafana legend has managed a win and a draw so far and would be keen to maintain the positive run against Chiefs.
Usuthu’s top marksman from last season Bongi Ntuli could feature for the first time this season after it was revealed that he has started training and is close to full fitness.
His availability would be good news for McCarthy who says he has huge plans for the striker although the player might not be an instant hit on his return as he needs time to adjust after a long lay-off.
Outstanding players like the former Orlando Pirates duo of Luvuyo Memela and Augustine Mulenga would be needed for such a battle against the wounded Chiefs.
Veteran midfielder Simphiwe Tshabalala, Makhehleni Makaula and left-back Sibusiso Mabiliso are sure to miss this clash after they tested positive for coronavirus last week as they were unavailable for last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Bloemfontein Celtic.
This is a battle of teams separated by three points and they have both not enjoyed commendable starts to their PSL campaigns.
When it comes to domestic business, Chiefs appear very low in confidence and ninth-placed AmaZulu might want to exploit that factor.
Just one win, four draws and as many defeats have made Chiefs look a pale shadow of a team that almost won the league title last season.
They go into Wednesday’s encounter fresh from being humiliated 2-1 at home by fellow relegation candidates Maritzburg United last weekend.
Hunt’s men have not won in seven straight league matches and they face an Usuthu side that appears to be picking up form under McCarthy although also flirting with the chop.
The fact that AmaZulu have conceded 12 goals in nine outings could be a bit encouraging for Amakhosi’s attackers who, however, need to improve after managing just seven goals in nine games.
Also that Chiefs have shipped in 13 times in nine games might offer hope for the Usuthu forwards who have managed 12 league goals so far.
The last time these teams met saw AmaZulu edging Chiefs 1-0 away at FNB Stadium just before football was suspended in March 2020.