Going into the new PSL season the KZN club has ambitious plans to finish in the top four, while coach Craig Rosslee has a job on his hands to keep the momentum going forward
Usuthu can finish in the top eight of the Premier Soccer League this season. Coach Craig Rosslee has transformed the club since taking over in the New Year, but how far can he take them this season?
KZN clubs are realising that it's not about bringing in former star players from Gauteng who look to retire with a good pay cheque in Durban. We know the secret is bringing in relatively younger players who have the will, hunger and desire to win. If the level of your talent is similar to other players, then the factor that makes the cream rise to the top is commitment and character.
New signings like Letladi Madubanya, Sfiso Hlanti, Lunga Zondi and Sthembiso Ngcobo have shown during pre-season that they are hungry enough to relaunch their careers. This will be a great chance for them to make a name for themselves with a new project at Usuthu, as Rosslee is keen to stamp his vision on the Durban club.
Then there are guys like Bongani Ndulula upfront who finished very strong last season. Ayanda Dlamini is hungry to impress with goals too. Hard working defender Thamsanqa Teyise is expected to shine and is eager to one day get into the Bafana ranks. It will be interesting to see attacking midfielder Nkosinathi Mthiyane step up to the PSL, having promised so much with a great season for Thanda Royal Zulu.
Perhaps it's early to fulfill their mandate to finish in the top four, because AmaZulu were in the relegation zone last season. You can't make such a dramatic turnover in one year, as success is meant to be made gradually with small changes. However, typical in South Africa, Usuthu have gone ahead with wholesale changes.
Rosslee already established an immediate impact by turning a club in threat of falling out of the PSL, into a feared team that's difficult to beat in the year 2013. He's achieved that by drilling his hard working mentality into his squad, but now he needs to start all over again with several new players. That means, realistically, he needs time and if the Usuthu board is patient then they should give him at least three years to meet their objectives.
We can already see he is taking the club in the right direction. Usuthu celebrated their 80th anniversary last year and it is about time they start to pull their weight. I remember over a decade ago when they were relegated and then slowly making their way back into the PSL. In those years Eddie Lewis and Clive Barker were at the helm, and everyone used to speak about how AmaZulu was a sleeping giant. They were improving, but you need patience to see that progression taken to the next level.
Fortunately, the club hasn't fallen away compared to another Durban giant Manning Rangers. Though, there's high potential for AmaZulu to reach. That has to be a long term strategy and the board needs to look at making the MTN 8 first.