Troubled Usuthu face stern test

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

Put your money on Mamelodi Sundowns to get their league title defence off to a flying start after this evening's Premier Soccer League opening full programme.

The fixture could not have been kinder to the Brazilians, who have been matched up against the beleaguered AmaZulu at Loftus (7.30pm).

The KwaZulu-Natal side have found some stability after chairman Patrick Sokhela settled an outstanding debt on the side's status bought from Limpopo's Dynamos.

However, a few horses had already bolted out of the stable by the time Sokhela met his obligations.

Brazilian coach Julio Cesar Leal had already felt his future was too insecure and refused to recommit to Usuthu, and former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker leads a team without a few key players from last season.

Out are Kagiso Senamela and Xolani Mabaso, who have been shipped to neighbours Lamontville Golden Arrows. Lucky Mzizi has found a new home at Bloemfontein Celtic, while veteran John Moshoeu is not in the travelling entourage after failing to agree terms with the club earlier in the week.

Now, all this against a Sundowns team that looked peerless against Bloemfontein Celtic at the weekend.

With their fair amount of talent, the most vocal supporters and tails up after winning the Telkom Charity Cup, Celtic were reduced to what looked like a bunch of schoolboys, way out of their depth.

Granted, Usuthu have made a few signings, with veteran left-back Lovers Mohlala the most notable, but the likes of Sanele Majola, Mohammed Awal Issah, Momikiya Yemo and Mothobani Motapo will not match the likes of Gift Leremi, Manqoba Ngwenya, Godfrey Sapula, Surprise Moriri and Esrom Nyandoro.

The Brazilians are expected to apply themselves seriously in tonight's game as part of their preparations for Saturday's Confederation Cup game against Astres Douala of Cameroon at Loftus (7.30pm).