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Football | Absa Premiership

Bonginkosi Ntuli © Backpage Pix

AmaZulu, Highlands set for King Zwelithini battle



AmaZulu and Highlands Park will battle for three Absa Premiership points when they meet at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday.

Kick-off at at 8.15pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).

AmaZulu opened the year with a 3-2 loss away to Polokwane City on January 5. It was the Durban side’s second loss from their last three league outings, though they at least saw striker Bonginkosi Ntuli continue his fine form with a fourth goal in that same sequence.

Usuthu have claimed 16 points from eight home matches this season, with their last result as hosts a 2-0 win over Golden Arrows in the Durban Derby just before the festive-season break.

Highlands extended their unbeaten run in the league to five matches as they held title-chasing Orlando Pirates to a 2-2 draw in a thrilling match at Makhulong Stadium on January 5.

The Lions of the North have claimed eight points from as many away matches this season, with their last result on the road a 2-1 win at Bloemfontein Celtic in mid-December.

In head-to-head stats, AmaZulu and Highlands have met in just one previous top-flight league match. That encounter took place earlier this season, with Usuthu claiming a 2-1 away win thanks to goals from Siyabonga Nomvethe and Emiliano Tade.

PREVIOUS LINEUPS

AmaZulu’s line-up from their 3-2 loss to Polokwane on January 5: Mbatha, P.Gumede, M.Gumede, Mabiliso, Nyongo, Morton (Cele 67'), Ncube (Ncobeni 85'), Vilakazi, Sithebe, Tade (Karuru 80'), Ntuli.

Highlands’ line-up from their 2-2 draw with Pirates on January 5: Heugh, Sibande, Williams, L. Mokoena, Msimango, Rae (Motsepe 82’), Mbatha (Haoseb 71’), Mahlangu, Shalulile, Ndoro, Mbunjana (Mogaila 55’).

WHAT THE TEAMS ARE SAYING

AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson

“We made a few errors defensively,” said Johnson after his side succumbed to Polokwane City in a five-goal thriller last weekend.

“We probably had more opportunities than they did and I thought we deserved more but that is football.”

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama

“We came out and went at them. We gave it a good go. We tried our best. They are the best team. They’ve assembled some of the best players in the country,” Da Gama said after the draw with Orlando Pirates.

“We have players who are still finding themselves in the PSL. But credit must go to the players. They played with heart and soul. They showed no fear.”

AMAZULU KEY PLAYERS

Bonginkosi Ntuli – Four goals in AmaZulu’s last three matches makes striker Bonginkosi Ntuli their clear danger man. He will be eager to continue his hot streak when Usuthu welcome Highlands to King Zwelithini Stadium.

Michael Morton – Highlands are a hard-working, combative side and AmaZulu will need to match their work-rate and aggression. To that end, the tireless Michael Morton will be a key figure, a player who always leaves his heart and soul out on the field.

HIGHLANDS PARK KEY PLAYERS

Mothobi Mvala – The goal-scoring midfielder was suspended for Highlands’ match against Orlando Pirates and will have been disappointed to miss out on what was a cracking game. He’ll be fresh and firing for this clash with AmaZulu.

Sphiwe Mahlangu – The young midfielder put up a fine showing against Orlando Pirates last weekend and scored a fine goal – though he was guilty of missing other glaring chances. He’ll hope to be sharper against AmaZulu.



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