AmaZulu right-back Thembela Sikhakhane looks back at what made 2020/21 a season to remember for Usuthu after they finished DSTV Premiership runners up as the KZN outfit commences with preparations for the new season.
The Ulundi born man credits last season’s historical finish to comradery masterminded by Coach Benni McCarthy.
“Our coaches played a huge role obviously in our success. The experience Coach Benni and his technical team brought was great. It was a work of unity and understanding. They taught us a lot. We all enjoyed working with them, “he said.
The former Golden Arrows defender started 24 times for Usuthu this season which in turn contributed to an improved collective defensive record with his fellow teammates.
The achievement is both a personal and collective improvement 13th log finish of their 2019/20 season which only saw Sikhakhane making 16 starts.
He continued: “The vibe at training was awesome last season. It was a lovely environment. Even when the coach would say let us call it a day after a session you would hear players moaning and wanting to keep going.”
“The way training was such a great vibe, even when we had come from a 5-day off, after just 2 days the guys would be saying they miss training. That is how nice it was at training.”
“What made it all nice was that we were winning matches and could still enjoy ourselves at training. The coach made sure that we had fun and competing for places which is what made us perform,” he said.
AmaZulu’s defense was the joint third least breached all season with 23 goals conceded and 54 points collected.
Reigning Champions Mamelodi Sundowns and third place finishers, Orlando Pirates both conceded 14 and 22 goals, respectively.
The end of season would always mean going to and fro, Johannesburg and Durban for the 28-year-old defender these past three seasons with his former parent club, Orlando Pirates only agreeing a permanent deal with Usuthu at beginning of last season. Such days are behind the former KwaGqikazi All Stars man, but he says he is grateful they moulded him to a better player today.
Although he beams with excitement at the thought of what awaits the Sandile Zungu led outfit in the new season with continental football on the menu, he says facing the new season will not be easy.
“We must not be big-headed going into the new season because we are expecting a lot of things. Our supporters, management, and the whole of the Usuthu family are expecting a lot from us.
“If we can get some silverware and just do better than this past season it would be more than great. We must be able to pose a strong challenge this season. If we can start well and compete, things can fall into place hopefully in good timing,” said Sikhakhane.
Anticipation for the upcoming season is brewing among the club’s faithful across all over South Africa as supporters hope and pray a return to stadiums for fans can be announced by the PSL soon.