Martin admits Usuthu players’ uncertainty over future affecting performances

MID-SEASON signing Augustine Mulenga scored AmaZulu FC’s goal as they lost 2-1 to Richards Bay FC in the DStv Premiership on Tuesday. | BackpagePix

MID-SEASON signing Augustine Mulenga scored AmaZulu FC’s goal as they lost 2-1 to Richards Bay FC in the DStv Premiership on Tuesday. | BackpagePix

Published May 2, 2024


AMAZULU head coach Pablo Franco Martin has suggested that the club may be on the verge of a squad revamp at the end of the season.

Usuthu are sitting in 12th place in the DStv Premiership after 26 matches and are at great risk of missing out on a top-eight place for the second season running.

Martin spoke to the media after seeing his side surrender an early lead, thanks to an Augustine Mulenga strike, in losing to relegation strugglers and KwaZulu-Natal rivals Richards Bay on Tuesday.

That defeat left AmaZulu two points off Kaizer Chiefs in eighth, with the Amakhosi set to play Mamelodi Sundowns this afternoon.

Franco, who is usually very positive and encouraging in his utterances, opted for brutal honesty when questioned about his side’s inconsistent performances and their underwhelming season.

The 43-year-old expressed the need for an upgrade in squad quality if they were to have any chance of realistically pursuing their top-four aspirations.

The club has released 22 players since the start of the season and roped in 12 ahead of Martin’s first season in charge.

“If we want to consistently challenge for the top four or eight, we likely need to change some players at the end of the season,” said the Spanish-born coach.

“We are going to try but we spoke about this several weeks ago. It’s a difficult moment of the season where players don’t know whether they’re going to stay or they’re going to leave so you can expect that there will be these kinds of ups and downs in performances.”

AmaZulu will have to navigate fixtures against Stellenbosch, Chiefs, and Sekhukhune United before closing out the season with a KZN derby against Golden Arrows who are also contending for a place in the top eight.

When quizzed about his plans to refocus his players for the final stretch, Martin admitted that it would be difficult but promised that he and his technical team would appeal to the mentality of his group.

He also went on to suggest the club could not repeat several of the mistakes they’d made at the start of the season in terms of their work in the transfer market.

“It’s difficult. We’re trying to motivate the guys, we’re trying to get them to push and to train well, as well as keep preparing for the games as best as possible but that motivation comes from inside each person.”

“About the future and contracts, there’s nothing we can do,” he continued. “At the end of the season we’ll talk about that and we will have huge discussions because if we want to compete higher up on the table, we cannot have what happened this season where you are signing your best striker and winger and they never arrive, we lost players and didn’t replace them, we try going for players to increase the quality but we don’t get them.”