Roger Palmgren, the AmaZulu coach, admits he has been preparing his team for a strong backlash on the weekend when Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs come to town.
|Roger Palmgren © PSL photos
The two clubs open their Absa Premiership campaigns at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the back of embarrassing losses in the MTN8 - Usuthu going down tamely 2-0 to Moroka Swallows and Amakhosi having been humiliated 4-1 by Mamelodi Sundowns.
The result is two hurt teams, both desperate for some sort of redemption, even more so for the Soweto club, who have faced a strong backlash from their large following in the aftermath of their showing in Tshwane.
"Of course they'll be hurting from what happened last weekend and will want to come out more determined," Palmgren told PSL.co.za. "There is bound to be a reaction because they are a team that can't have two performances like that consecutively."
However, the Swedish coach is adamant that this response will not just be one-sided, insisting that they too are hurting from what happened in the cup last week.
"Even from our side, there will be a reaction," he said. "I can assure you that. Chiefs never beat us last year and hopefully it is again the case this year. We will look to make a statement. They will come at us, yes, we expect that. But we will go at them too."
Palmgren also felt it was a good chance to "kick one of the big clubs while they were down", although he admitted he had the utmost respect for Chiefs.
Close to 50,000 fans are expected to attend the match in Durban, with the coach saying there was no better way to start a season with three points and in front of a full house.
"That's the nice thing about Chiefs, they always fill the stadium and it will be a good atmosphere for our first game," he said. "The players love it.
"We always try to win every game, whoever the opposition may be and it will be no different against Chiefs.
"A good start is always important and gives you a good advantage later on in the season. It's a long season ahead and AmaZulu haven't had a good start for many, many years now."
Stanley Kgatla and Carlington Nyadombo are both available again after missing last week's match due to injury.
But new signings, Liberia midfielder Dulee Johnson and Zimbabwean striker Mkhokheli Dube, along with stalwart defender Belux Kasonga all have legal issues and are still finalising their paperwork.
Another backline player unlikely to feature is Marc van Heerden, who picked up an ankle injury against Swallows.
Reflecting on the Swallows loss, Palmgren added: "We lacked the actual match intensity, we were cruising and there was not aggression in both defence and offence. It was terrible and not just one area, the whole squad.
The players admitted it themselves and they will bounce back.
"We've been talking about the mindset a lot at training and the players are fully aware that something like this cannot happen again."