AmaZulu target top four spot
Peter O’Connor (Gallo Images)
Durban - AmaZulu can have no excuses for failure in the new season, general manager Peter O’Connor said on Wednesday, insisting that a top-four Premiership finish and a cup title were appropriate targets for coach Roger Palmgren.
The club have been desperate to reach those heights in recent seasons, but have constantly come up short, although they did achieve a best-ever finish in the Premier Soccer League era during the last campaign when they ended seventh.
This despite a poor start by Usuthu, which saw them fail to win any of their opening five fixtures, leading to the eventual sacking of Manqoba Mngqithi.
“Obviously last season we were let down. We started of badly,” O’Connor said.
“The first five games we had two points and that set us on the back foot.
“We then got back up to the top six and then the last five games I think, towards the end of the season, we let ourselves down again.
"So we need to make sure the consistency is there throughout this year.
“We want to finish in the top four and make sure we take a cup this season.”
O’Connor admitted the pressure would be on for Palmgren, who was widely credited for turning around the club last season and in the process was rewarded with a three-year deal.
“We’re always under pressure and everyone at the club is aware of what we have to do,” O’Connor said.
“We spoke about AmaZulu being a brand that’s right up there, constantly thriving for the top four, for a number of years now.
“The time has now come for delivery and the coach is aware of that.”
AmaZulu, one of the country’s oldest football clubs, are due to face 19-time English champions Manchester United in a friendly match in Durban next week.
Their first match of the domestic season will be played in the MTN8 cup tournament when they face Moroka Swallows.
“We have to hit the ground running when the season proper starts,” O’Connor said.
“Our first game is against Swallows in the MTN8 and we have to be fully prepared by then.
“Games like this one against Manchester United will give us that opportunity to get some good match practice for that game and also the start of the league.”
The club has had one major loss in the off-season following the sale of midfielder Thamsanqa Sangweni to Mamelodi Sundowns.
“We’re now targeting a defensive midfielder to replace Thami Sangweni,” O’Connor said.
“It looks at this stage as though we’re going to get an international player.
“I can’t mention his name, but he will be back in the country on Sunday and I’m sure he will sign for us.
"We’ve also got another four or five players currently on trial with us and the coach will make an assessment on them by the end of the week.”