ritson to pounce

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

AmaZulu showed a great deal of improvement in their matches leading up to the festive recess and pundits tipped them as the dark horse for 2009 but that is yet to be seen.

They suffered 3-2 defeats against Free State Stars and Platinum Stars in their opening matches of the new year, and now the question is: will they deliver against Mamelodi Sundowns at home on Sunday?

This Absa Premiership clash takes place at Chatsworth Stadium in Durban, at 3.30pm.

The Brazilians have problems of their own on and off the pitch and it remains to be seen if they will be able to pick themselves up in Durban where AmaZulu loyalists are expected to come in droves to spur their players on.

Downs started the new year on an uninspiring note, losing 0-1 to Kaizer Chiefs.

But they go into this match spirited after winning 1-0 at Bloemfontein Celtic in their last outing.

Though on paper Downs look the favourites, their coach Henri Michel will have to come up with a captivating game plan to overcome AmaZulu.

Usuthu, especially their leading goal scorer Bradley Ritson, are also determined to return to their winning ways in front of their fans, who have developed a culture of attending the side's matches in throngs.

Ritson is enjoying his maiden season in top flight soccer and is a player coach Clive Barker will rely on to ensure success for Usuthu.

"We need to turn the corner on Sunday by collecting maximum points against Sundowns and I hope to contribute by scoring goals for my team," said the 26-year-old.

Barker also has capable forwards such as Dumisani Ngwenya and Collins Chabalala who could be a handful for Derrick Spencer and company.

Though he is on his way out of Chloorkop, Lerato Chabangu can still help Downs compete in the second round of the Premiership.

He will want to prove to club management that they made a mistake to let him go to cross-town rivals SuperSport United at the end of the season.