IT IS hard not to write off AmaZulu, but with a single win in 18 Premier League matches, coach Steve Barker understands why everyone thinks that his Usuthu, at the bottom of the log, are destined for the drop.
“But I’m positive. We need to keep believing, no matter what those around us say,” Barker said ahead of tonight’s clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium against Mamelodi Sundowns.
Sundowns are also desperate for points. However, for the men from Tshwane it is to keep up with league log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Barker arrived at Amazulu in November – to replace Craig Rosslee – and he believes his impis need a big scalp to trigger their survival mode.
Sundowns, with their embarrassment of riches and their status as league title holders, fit the bill.
“I would be lying if I said it had been easy. I always knew when I came here that it was going to be a difficult task. There are people who don’t think we can survive, but there are also many who think we can . . . and believe in what we are doing,” Barker said.
“We have to be strong for them. I think we need a win against a team that no one expects us to beat to boost our confidence. And they say when everyone is against you that is when you are most dangerous.”
Sundowns have not lost a league match since August and began this year by hammering Moroka Swallows 4-1 two weeks’ ago.
“It is a massive game for us, regardless of the opposition, and we need to somehow get a win. Sundowns are never an easy team. They have quality and match-winners,” Barker said.
“We are in a desperate situation, so we can’t go there and not try win our home game.”
Barker said he was encouraged by seeing fellow relegation candidates Platinum Stars, Swallows and Free State Stars dropping points.
“Fortunately the teams above us haven’t been able to take full advantage. We still have an opportunity to close the gap because we have two games on them.
“But we have led in four of our last five games and were not able to get victories. It’s not acceptable.”
Usuthu will have to do without defender Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela and striker Bornwell Mwape, who were roped in recently to try help them avoid relegation, but are suspended.
Sundowns, however, did not suffer any injury or card set backs at the weekend in their 2-0 win over Thanda Royal Zulu in the Nedbank Cup last 32, and coach Pitso Mosimane has promised to field his best lineup.