With captain and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini ruled out for eight weeks after undergoing ankle surgery, one of the players who will be looking to make the number one position his own is long-time servant Mbongeni Mzimela.
“Kati” has already featured in the last line of defence for Usuthu this season and he aims to grab this opportunity with both hands.
AmaZuluFC.net: Last season you made a few appearances for the club, how do you feel about getting a chance to play so early in the season?
Mbongeni Mzimela: Every player wants to be in the field of play because that’s what we train for but obviously it’s not always possible in a professional team with so much competition around.
We’re all concerned about Kapini’s injury because he is an important player for the club and also a leader, but at the same time I’m grateful that so far the coach has given me a chance to play, and I hope to continue doing my best and not put myself under pressure.
AmaZuluFC.net: How is the working relationship between you and the other goalkeepers Tapuwa Kapini and Philani Zikalala?
MM: Since Kapini arrived at the club I have learnt a lot from him and I trust that he is also learning from me because as goalkeepers we all have different strengths.
The same goes for Zikalala, who is also a very good goalkeeper, so we all keep each other on our toes and we work together as a family and also encourage each other at the same time.
AmaZuluFC.net: What about the goalkeeper coach Graham Johnson, a man with a lot of experience?
MM: I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in my game since I started working with the coach years ago, to such an extent that at some stage I was called up to the national team.
He has been a big influence in my career and we all learn a lot from him in every training session.
AmaZuluFC.net: During the game against Lamontville Golden Arrows you managed to keep a clean sheet, what are the chances of doing the same against SuperSport United this weekend?
MM: The clean sheet against Arrows was important for us after the poor start that we had, so we are definitely looking to build on that. In that game we defended well as a team and that made my job a lot easier.
We have to do the same against SuperSport United because they are very dangerous, especially when it comes to crosses and setpieces, but we can solve the problem by marking them closely and cutting the supply.
They are also good coming through the middle but we do have strong midfielders and central defenders and if we work together we can stop them.
AmaZuluFC.net: What are your personal ambitions for the rest of the season?
MM: This season I just want to make good use of any opportunities that I will get because I still have dreams of returning to the national team.
Like I said, the competition is very tough, especially when it comes to the national team, but I’ll continue fighting for my chance.