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PREVIEW: AmaZulu welcome in-form Royal AM at Moses Mabhida Stadium

Despite the major splash in the media, Royal AM have been flying high in the DStv Premiership

Copyright Steve Haag Sports156593
Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The first edition of the brand new #DurbanDerby is hosted at none other than eThekwini’s finest, Moses Mabhida. Despite the major splash in the media, Royal AM have been flying high in the DStv Premiership, while AmaZulu’s reign ‘on top’ last season has seemingly dried out.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Who will take all the coins when two of Durban’s finest meets for the inaugural derby?

DStv Premiership
Saturday 4 December
Moses Mabhida Stadium




The Past

Last season’s success for Usuthu have been a testament to the great work by the board and coaching staff alike. Even the U23 team won the DStv Diski Challenge, proving the whole structure seemed to have improved on the whole. But that is obviously in the past, and the mood seems rather different from the outside looking in over the course of this season.

Is Benni running out of ideas?

AmaZulu and Benni McCarthy are not doing poorly on the whole but failing to cross the line in fixtures is becoming more and more evident in the coach’s frustration in post-match interviews. Four draws in the past five with a solitary win over Cape Town City leaves nothing to desire as a manager. Yes, you can be happy that you haven’t lost and you’re putting points on the board, but when you know the chances to finish where there and you could have created an abundance more, the mood will be like that of a loss. Usuthu are doing well to close the spaces and passing avenues in fixtures allowing them to win the ball back quite well. Although in the recent fixture against Maritzburg United there was a disconnection between midfield and defence and AmaZulu were exploited. Benni has stated he is doing everything he can on the training pitch, but it’s not translating onto the field of play and has made a call for new players in recent interviews.

The ones to get the job done

While last campaign Siyethemba Sithebe was the key man throughout AmaZulu midfield, a few new additions have come to the party with him taking the backseat. Keagan Buchanan, although blowing hot and cold, brings a wide passing range in the final third, including in the build-up play alongside captain Makhehlene Makhaula to clean up anything and everything. The strikers have not been producing, and that second striker role played so very well in recent games by Andre de Jong has been an alternative, including the every ready and top goal scorer for Usuthu Luvuyo Memela scoring three as a winger.

Royal AM


The team that is winning fans and games

Bursting on the scene in the lower leagues and coming to be a competitive team in arguably Africa’s best league, Royal AM is winning over the eyes and now even the hearts of some fans. While the off-field antiques might be a distraction to their on-field performances, Mzansi is slowly paying recognition to John Maduka and his players. Third place and the first team to achieve four consecutive wins in the DStv Premiership this season, the team’s hard work is slowly coming to light amidst on field bonuses and cheerleaders in the stands.

Ready in the final third, but defensively broken

Yes, there are 11 players on the field as well as a full squad to back them up, there are, however, two key players pulling the strings in the front of the park for Royal AM. Quick and agile with six goals to his name, Victor Letsoalo is even making a name for himself in the national team. Most strikers need someone to work with and experienced Ndumiso Mabena has clicked ever so well with Letsoalo. Royal AM are finding the net regularly, scoring 19 (second best in the league to Sundowns’ 21), but they are leaking goals in the back, tied with Chiefs on 13, but they’re not trying to be defensive like Amakhosi.

Prediction: Royal AM (19/10)

Guaranteed entertaining football and some spice! Both teams play an attractive brand of football that fans would be buzzing for in the stands. While AmaZulu do well in moving the ball around, including being quick to win the ball back, the transition is slow and if they do get the ball forward to create an overload, the finishing is beyond sub-par. On the other hand, Royal AM’s finishing has been quite the opposite, finding the net on the regular. Taking the opportunities will be key in this fixture because there will be chances, and Royal AM’s clinical and ice-cold veins in the final third will win the game.
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