It will be a baptism of fire for newly-appointed AmaZulu coach Jozef Vukusic, who will take charge of his first match at the helm with a tough tie against Chiefs.
Much is expected of Vukusic, who took over the reins after the sacking of Cavin Johnson. The Serb tactician greatly enhanced his reputation by guiding Polokwane City to a fifth-placed Absa Premiership last season before resigning under mysterious circumstances.
But the new Usuthu boss has a massive task on his hands with the KZN side floundering in last position on the table and to add to that he must try get them back on track against a Chiefs side, who will go back to the top of the standings should they win.
Amakhosi fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Vukusic’s former club in their previous fixture. The international break could not have come at a worse time for Ernst Middendorp’s side, who had built up a significant head of steam prior to the 18-day hiatus.
Since the City defeat, the Glamour Boys have had to wait a further 10 days for their follow-up fixture and will need to shake off the cobwebs quickly if they are to reassert their title challenge.
Besides that defeat to the Rise and Shine, the Soweto giants have looked a rejuvenated outfit, with the return of key players Erick Mathoho and Lebogang Manyama in to the starting lineup as well as the astute signings of the likes of Samir Nurkovic and Kearyn Baccus, while they are playing with a swagger that has not been seen from them in a number of years.
This has given the Amakhosi faithful real belief that the side can break their four-year trophy drought. It is therefore imperative that they win the bread-and-butter matches against the smaller sides, starting with AmaZulu away on Tuesday and then Baroka at home on Saturday.
Will this be the game that Middendorp decides to reintroduce club captain Itumeleng Khune in to the starting lineup for the first time in 296 days?
Usuthu have not beaten Chiefs in over a decade but last season made the King Zwelithini stadium something of a fortress, losing just two matches at the venue in the 2018/2019 campaign.
With Polokwane having beaten SuperSport United on Saturday, Chiefs know they must capitalise on Matsatsantsa’s slip-up and usurp the men from Pretoria at the top of the table.